California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice W. Harris today praised Gov. Jerry Brown for including in his proposed 2013-14 budget additional funding for community colleges and for his leadership of an initiative to help more students achieve their academic and career goals through improved online education.
“Governor Brown’s leadership in passing Proposition 30 means California community colleges can begin to make room for some of the hundreds of thousands of students who have been shut out of our system due to recent funding cuts,” Harris said. “This budget represents a good start toward financial recovery for our system. The governor and voters deserve credit for beginning this overdue reinvestment.”
The governor’s budget would provide $197 million more to the college system in 2013-14 and directs the California Community Colleges Board of Governors to determine the best way to allocate the money to districts. The funding increase would allow colleges statewide to add back thousands of classes to serve some of the nearly 500,000 students turned away over the past four years during the state’s financial crisis and at the same time continue the system’s work to improve student success.
The additional funds, as well as $179 million to make good on funding commitments that were deferred during the recession, will leave colleges with less debt and better positioned to meet the needs of an economy that increasingly is demanding college-educated workers.
Harris said that the California community college system has already laid the groundwork for the governor’s desire to improve online education. Twenty-seven percent of community college students take at least one course online each year, nearly 17 percent of all courses offered are through distance education, and almost half of all classes currently offered involve some online components. The California Community College Online Initiative would improve students’ access to courses and increase rates of transfer and degree attainment in the following ways:
* Creation of a centralized “virtual campus” that brings together several existing distance education services into a single hosting system with a 24/7 support center for students. Leveraging the purchasing power of the 112-college system would save money and help students find and take the courses they need through a common on-line course management portal.
* Expanded options for students to obtain college credit by exam. Working with the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, the Chancellor’s Office will create challenge exams for core courses for Associate Degree for Transfer majors as well as remedial courses. Students would have the option of acquiring the skills and knowledge necessary to pass these exams through Massive Open Online Course (MOOCS) and credits awarded would be transportable California State University and the University of California.
The governor’s budget proposal also recognizes the significant role California’s community colleges play in workforce development, with significantly expanded resources for clean energy job training. The proposal also calls for shifting additional apprenticeship responsibilities to community colleges and shifting adult education responsibilities performed by K-12 to the community colleges. Over decades, uneven approaches to adult education have developed, with K-12 educating some students and community colleges educating others. Recent funding cuts have limited access to these classes, which help adults become economically self-sufficient.
“We view this budget proposal as a vote of confidence in our ability to provide workforce training and basic skills instruction to adult learners, and we look forward to conversations on ways to better serve these populations,” Harris said.
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