Budget cuts have prompted the Board of Governors of the 112 California Community Colleges to consider banning repeated courses for students who have earned a satisfactory grade. This would greatly reduce the burden of the community college, since about half of students take advantage of repetitive courses like ballroom dancing and tennis.
According to Chancellor Jack Scott, the move is intended to strengthen the community college role in degree preparation and job skills training. “It’s far more important…to take a chemistry course than…to take golf for the third time,” Scott told Kevin Yamamura of The Sacramento Bee.
The new regulations will bar most students from repeating a class they have passed. Exemptions are planned for those who need the classes in order to transfer to a four-year college or qualify for a job, performing arts students who must take an ensemble each semester, remedial courses and training for intercollegiate athletes.
The goal is to move students who take the courses for recreational purposes into the private sector. Hobbyists who take advantage of the community college system to pursue dance, arts and sports activities will need to take private classes, which are generally much more expensive. Karen Saginor, president of the Academic Senate at San Francisco’s City College, expressed concern that lower income people would be excluded due to the higher cost.
One proposed solution is to move the popular recreational courses into the “Community Services” division so that teachers and students could still use the public facilities but would pay for the courses themselves. This would still raise the class fee, but would be much more affordable than private lessons.
Certain courses that students require for job preparation may be re-transcripted so that the material is broken down into smaller segments. This would allow the student to take several different classes on a particular topic in their field. For example, an automotive mechanics course could be broken down into segments covering engine repair, computer technology for mechanics, brakes, exhaust system repair and other topics. Another way to accomplish this would be to offer beginning, intermediate and advanced classes.
Scott emphasized that the goal of a community college is to educate, not to provide “the cheapest form of recreation.” Board of Governors president Scott Himelstein reports that the community colleges have to turn away about 200,000 students per year who want to pursue degrees. “Budget cuts have forced us to ration education,” Himelstein said in the Central Valley Business Times.
Although some individuals express great concern about the move, there is as yet no sign of a strong protest. The consensus of opinion seems to be that this is a common-sense measure to keep the colleges solvent in the wake of more than a billion dollars in budget cuts over the last few years.
The new regulations will be read by the Board of Governors in July after a forty-five day period for comments from the public. They are expected to be approved and would go into effect for fall semester of 2013.