Community colleges’ promise meets bitter reality – latimes.com
Riggs is on a one-year break from Cal State Stanislaus, where he teaches in the education leadership doctoral program. At Glendale College, a community anchor for 85 years, his days are now spent in education triage, planning how to deal with an estimated $4.5-million cut the college will face if Prop. 30 fails. Riggs said 250 more classes may have to be chopped, with perhaps 20 layoffs. Teachers have already voted themselves a 5% pay cut to help the school get by.
Riggs handed me a 22-page packet he compiled for his doctoral students.
“The Under-Educated American,” says the title. “A Case for Closing the Achievement Gap.”
The material charts the national rise of income inequality against a projected shortage of college-educated people.
“By 2020, we’ll be 20 million degrees short,” said Riggs, even though “closing the income gap has substantial social and individual benefits.”
As they were back in my day, community colleges are great equalizers. When you walk through the door, you’re on the path to self-sufficiency and upward mobility. There’s nothing fancy or prestigious about them, but they train nurses and firefighters and police, and the state estimates a $4.50 return on every $1 invested in a community college student.
At Glendale Community, where Ben Keller is working on his business degree, Carol Wong, 23, has switched from physics to business as she tries to find her way in the world. Arman Gevorkyan, 19, worked in retail jobs long enough to know he wants and needs a college degree to do better. And Cameron McGee, 22, hopes the challenge and headache of fighting for classes in such a competitive environment will pay off later.
Up at Diablo Valley College, the school president is Peter Garcia, a guy I’ve known since we were kids. On Thursday, he met with faculty leaders to plan for possible cuts that will affect both existing and incoming students.
“The opportunity you had to search for your future is being lost to thousands of students,” Garcia said by email. “I wish I had better news.”