The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

Action is needed to stop task force in its tracks

Despite a widespread and vocal distention against the Student Success Task Force’s recommendations for California community colleges by educators, administrators, students and district trustees, nothing has stopped, or even come close to slowing it down.

The California Board of Governors passed the recommendations with no dissensions Jan. 9, just as planned. All though there was time to voice dissent by the legions decrying the recommendations, the vote was carried out without even a token nod to amend the recommendations based on public reaction. They were accepted as is. The recommendations go to the state legislature Feb. 24, the final step before systematic education rationing goes into affect.

Now is the time to act. Not tomorrow, or the day after. Now.

The recommendations were not created on proven models to improve completion rates or make students more successful. The name is a misnomer as the task force’s goal has always been reducing community college costs, not making students more successful. 

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First, some history:

The taskforce started life as an amendment to SB 1143, a budget reduction bill. Sen. Carol Liu (D-21), the handpicked successor to Jack Scott, currently State Chancellor, proposed funding colleges for the number of full-time students who pass classes rather than simply enroll. The bill was swatted down immediately as an attempt to extend to the community college system President Bush’s not-at-all-a-colossal-failure-of-education: No Child Left Behind.

The bill was amended to leave funding in its current form and instead created a task force on student success. The task force was chaired by Board of Governors member Peter MacDougall and consisted of representatives from academia, research and curiously, the business sector. Actual educators and student representatives were the minority. Of course, this is exactly what MacDougall wanted. He’s made no secret of his feelings on higher education. 

“The only possible way for improving graduation rates is to realign funding priorities to coincide with academic performance,” MacDougall told Lake County News in 2011 after receiving his chairmanship. That doesn’t sound like outcomes based funding does it?

The Board of Governors proposed guarding the hen house with foxes, and no one questioned it.

After a year, the task force did not include recommendations that would have increased student access to financial aid – which the task force was supposed to do – or improve remedial education – which the task force was supposed to do – nor did they improve academic counseling – which the task force was also supposed to do – instead proposing cuts to programs and classes that were not, to quote MacDougall, “geared toward helping students walk across a stage wearing a cap and gown,” such as pottery, physical education, and the computer applications and office systems department.

The trigger cuts have given the task force an out; no longer are they bound by their formative legislation but now the recommendations can hide behind the state’s shattered economy. Champion of this chameleon skin is Scott, who sidesteps the issue by reminding us that our education will be rationed anyway.

This is not rationing. Rationing is cutting an outlying department – such as underwater basket weaving – until times are plentiful again. Instead, the proposals make systemic and decade long changes to the foundation of California’s higher education system.

There are no metrics to support these changes or recommendations. There are no pilot programs to suggest that these will work. There are case studies that show will disenfranchise students, deny education and permanently corrode the shining jewel in California’s crown.

We are not City College of San Francisco; De Anza pulls students from across the South and East Bay, across multiple senate and assembly districts. Call your state assembly reps, your state senators and our elected governor. They are not kings on high. The Board of Governors is not an occupying force; they serve at the pleasure of the governor and the governor works for us. We want to keep our education remind them of this.

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