Education may be set back as a result of the slowdown in the economy and the state’s energy crisis, according to state Sen. Jack Scott, D-Glendale, who spoke at Kreider Hall on April 20.
Scott has a special interest in education and especially community colleges, having served 13 years as president of Pasadena City College. He is a member of the State Senate Committee on Education and chair of the Subcommittee on Higher Education.
Unfortunately, Scott said, the budget for education will not be as big as it was two years ago when California was flush with a budget surplus. Now, we’re in a “terrible mess” because of the energy crises, he said.
Because of the crunch, Scott said, the governor has reduced the $780 million increase requested by the legislature for higher education to $375 million.
But despite lowered expectations, education will still be on the right track, Scott said. The legislature is making efforts to improve schools with proposals such as enabling California State Universities to issue doctorate of education degrees, introducing a common course numbering system among community colleges to simplify the transfer process for students, and providing increased funding for office hours for adjunct faculty.
Scott said that the adjunct faculty office hours will be funded on a one-to-one basis, and that the colleges and the state will split the cost.
“This is a need that we’ve had for a long time,” he said.
Scott said he is supporting a proposal that will provide an institute for leadership training in the community colleges. This program will be geared towards faculty members who have future plans of serving in the school administration. “We need more leaders, given the growth that community colleges will be experiencing in the next few years,” said Scott.
An estimated 700,000 students will be entering the college system in the next decade, and Scott believes that at least three quarters of these students will enroll at community colleges. “We are the entry place for everyone,” said Scott, with community colleges playing an integral role in society because they provide education at a low cost.
Scott was also asked about what the state is doing about the energy crisis. He said that to date, the state has granted rights for the building of 12 power plants. There are currently five plants under construction, but only two will be up and running in July, which is not soon enough to face the increased demand during summer.
Scott said that there is
currently a push toward relaxation of pollution controls to enable the increased production of electricity.