College constituency deserves greater opportunities, more course offerings than state funding allows
Published: Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, May 18, 2011 19:05
Over the past 61 years, Contra Costa College has become the principal academic catalyst for any and all West County residents with the resolve to learn and succeed. It has become a communal core where students young and old, and from vastly differing backgrounds, arrive with mutual aspirations.
At CCC, virtually anyone who so chooses can submit an application and illuminate a litany of unforeseen possibilities.
But as the deflated budget decreases the number of course sections offered on campus, access to these opportunities is becoming increasingly scarce, and ever-competitive.
Drastic downsizing to the California community college system for the 2011-12 fiscal year has made it impossible to cater to the exponential demand for education, and more than 400,000 students from California's 112 community colleges will lose their rightful seats. At CCC, nearly 15 percent fewer full-time equivalent students will be served come fall.
Campus administrators know well that the college cannot continue to serve all interested students, and it is this bleak reality that has fueled the discussion over which students will take priority and which will not.
Proposals from the Legislative Analyst's Office, all of which imply immense alterations to our college, are still being appraised by campus officials who are pressed to find utilitarian solutions to the $4 million reduction in allocation. But regardless of how administrators decide to chop, all paths lead to the alienation of some students.
Such suggestions from the LAO include a 90-unit cap on taxpayer-subsidized classes, limitations on the repeatability of some physical education courses and a 154 percent fee increase to $66 per unit.
While enacting these proposals would help manage the cuts, the transformation in the student body would be devastating, imperiling lifelong learning students, student-athletes, vocational students and those who aren't afforded financial aid.
Without the quirky social dynamic, the meshing of gray toppers, high school kids and those of all ages, CCC would be missing its mark as a community college. And without the continued accessibility of education to the socially disadvantaged and ill-informed students of the community, CCC would fall short of one of its historical objectives.
Empowering the underdog with an attainable high quality education has always been one of the great wonders of CCC. But with so few section offerings in even the highest demand courses now, competition will inevitably continue to force the most disadvantaged, and likely the most in need, to the end of the line.
For many in the local community, this college is the only option. Mostly a result of proximity, CCC has become a regional lifeline for those seeking a new direction.
Yet, it's a slippery slope when the "premier community college in your own backyard" — the college's slogan — can no longer support interest in education in an area where poverty and violence often prevail.
The Richmond-San Pablo community deserves an institution that provides diverse and relevant course selections and fulfills the needs of all willing to learn. Now more than ever this community needs to be promoting education and advancing the capabilities of CCC.
It shouldn't be a question of who gets served and who gets left behind.