Bay Area community colleges seek to keep state off campus

San Francisco City College officials are vowing to fight a new proposal that would give Sacramento more control over California’s network of community colleges and require that resources be focused on full-time students seeking degrees.

They are opposing the recommendations of the California Community Colleges Student Success Task Force, which urged last month that community colleges adopt a statewide standardized testing system that they would use to determine whether students need remedial classes.

“What I see this as is the starting of the gentrification of our community college system,” Chris Jackson, vice president of City College’s board of trustees, said at a rally with faculty and students at the college’s Mission campus Tuesday. “I think this is something we need to be united around.”

Under the task force’s proposal, students would be required to declare a major early in their college careers, and they would be encouraged to study full time. Their access to financial aid and courses would be determined by their progress toward educational goals.

“As a state, we have arguably created the quintessential ‘open access’ college system,” the panel wrote. “Yet by any measure, community college completion rates are too low and must increase. We can no longer be satisfied with providing students open access and limited success.”

Yet City College officials took exception to such statements, arguing that open access, even to students who are brushing up on skills rather than seeking degrees, is essential to the college’s mission.

“This is actually a proposal that results in the cutting of hundreds of thousands of students from the rolls of community colleges,” said City College Board of Trustees President John Rizzo, also speaking at Tuesday’s rally. “If we’re going to have an admittance system based on merit and score, we’re going to leave out a whole population of people we need to have in the economy.”

Diana Bennett, a professor at the College of San Mateo and president of the academic senate for the county’s community college district, said school officials on the Peninsula are still studying the panel’s findings.

“We’re concerned,” Bennett said. “We’re still in discovery on the impact on the San Mateo district.”

Bennett said she would attend a town hall Wednesday in Oakland, at which the Student Success Task Force will hear public comments. City College officials also planned to attend.

acrawford@sfexaminer.com

Bay Area NewsCollege of San MateoeducationJohn RizzoLocal

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