State Senator Lui Pushes New Academic Plan

Rebecca Krueger, Staff Writer

A new proposal which would require community college students to create an academic plan or else be denied fee waivers in an effort to increase graduation rates was presented by state Sen. Carol Liu, D-Glendale to the board of trustees on Sep. 24.

“While we want everybody to have opportunity, we need focus,” said Liui.

Students would be required to identify their specific course of study and educational goals whether it’s a degree, certificate, or transfer placement.

Students would need to attend orientation and define a plan with their counselor to achieve their personal educational goals.

“In 2010, Sacramento State University for Higher Education and Policy reported that six years after enrolling 70 percent of degree seeking students haven’t completed a degree or transferred to a four-year institution,” said Liu.

By 2025, California’s economy will need 5.5 million college graduates to fill jobs in high-skill labor markets. California’s educational institutions are currently estimated to produce 3.2 million graduates, leaving a gap of 2.3 million in the labor force.

“The need to complete a degree and certificate completion is great and at the same time we know community colleges have been devastated by the state budget cuts, that have limited course offerings,” said Liu.

Liu’s plan would also urge the governor to change the mission of community colleges to align the policies and resources necessary to guide student achievement in three core areas: basic skills, career technology and transfer. These changes would begin in 2014.

If Senate Bill 1456 passes it will put Liu’s plan into effect. According to SB 1456, Liu’s plan would require that students who qualify for fee waivers to state “A degree, certificate, transfer, or career advancement goal and meet academic and progress standards determined by the board of governors.” Students who don’t have an academic goal in mind would be denied fee waivers such as the BOG.

Liu’s bill would be an extension of SB 1143 which founded the Student Success Task Force in 2010, whose original goal was to create a funding system based on performance for community colleges. SSTF was charged with examining multiple measures and effective programs to help students succeed and transfer.

The bill will force students to have a more practical perspective toward their education.

“We need to be more mindful of how we spend our dollars, we need to be aware of this because these kids need to succeed. They are our future,” said Liu.

When asked about the importance of Proposition 30, the proposed tax increase to fund community colleges, Liu said, “There is no Plan B. But stay with us. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.”