Power Grab in the California Community College SystemPosted: November 10, 2011
Guest Blogger Ron Norton Reel is president of the Community College Association (CCA), the higher education affiliate of the California Teachers Association (CTA) and a national affiliate of NEA. He is a tireless advocate for CCA and the community college system. Reel’s report on Chancellor Jack Scott’s proposed consolidation of personal power over the California Community Colleges, the largest higher education system in the U.S., reflects a pattern we see across California’s higher public education sector and the rest of the country. This is the cynical use of “student success,” “flexibility,” “efficiency,” “accountability” or “operational needs” to consolidate power over public higher education policy at the highest level of corporate administration.
Power Grab in the California Community College System
The California Community College Chancellor’s Office spent the last year convening a task force to examine how student success might be improved within the 112 colleges comprising the entire statewide system. In October, they published their results and are currently providing forums throughout the state soliciting comments, recommendations, and any other feedback from selected audiences. The Community College Association, CCA, had a presentation by the Chancellor himself, Dr. Jack Scott, and immediate past president of the Statewide Academic Senate, Jane Patton. We found not only these initial eight (8) overriding concerns with the content of the 22 recommendations outlined in their publication dated October 201, but proposed 42 responses, and 14 data collection inquiries.
1. It appears that the Board of Governors (BOG) would become an overriding agency with similar powers and directive capability similar to those of the University of California Regents.
2. The recommendations outline a program that if initiated, would place the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office with similar powers that the California State University Chancellor’s Office maintains, as it would relate to the 112 community colleges within the system. The CSU system has one collective bargaining contract. The California community colleges have at least 72 different collective bargaining contracts. Both faculty and students are not supportive of the outcomes that have been secured with the CSU Chancellor’s Office.
3. If the 22 recommendations were to be finalized, Prop 98 funds would be redistributed in a manner inconsistent with current law and damaging for students. Funding decision mandates would be taken away from faculty and students and replaced by those exclusively decided by the BOG, Local administration, and the Chancellor’s Office.
4. A program designed to provide additional power to both the BOG and the Chancellor’s Office would take autonomy away from the local districts and their Boards of Trustees. This would be a fundamental shift away from the Master Plan for Higher Education in California. This would significantly alter the California Community College Mission Statement and it would betray the concept of local control.
5. There is no consistent and dedicated enforcement mechanism established to make the recommendations feasible.
6. There is no clear source identified for the substantial increase in funding which would be needed to implement these recommendations. There is a hope that the legislators would provide additional funding, but in these hard economic times, it seems nearly impossible.
7. A highly volatile definition of “student success” as defined by this group does not meet the same definition that many within the community colleges believe to be the most acceptable.
8. A temporary economic downturn has allowed for a response that significantly changes the role or core mission of the community college by losing community services and lifelong learning.
To view our entire response to the task force recommendations, visit our website cca4me.org.
Real post date: Nov. 27, 2011.