Regarding the Current Meetings Review the Master Plan for Higher Education
To anyone living in California it should come as no surprise that now, perhaps more than ever, we are faced with immense challenges to our higher education infrastructure. As a lifelong educator I know this isn’t simple rhetoric but a candid assessment of a daunting future that lies ahead not only for our state’s education system, but for California’s economic future.
A recent study by the Public Policy Institute of California clearly illustrates our state’s need to produce one million four-year degree holders by 2025 just to remain economically competitive in the global marketplace. Yet because of a variety of factors, including over-crowding, tens of thousands of students are being turned away from University of California and California State University campuses each year.
We cannot afford to sit idly by as our state suffers the educational and economic ramifications of maintaining the status quo. We must act now to assure that our educational and economic future regains momentum and superiority if we hope to remain economically competitive and at the forefront of educational and business excellence now and in the future.
To achieve this goal, three important considerations must be addressed at California’s university systems: quality, access, and affordability. While I know that the quality of California’s higher education remains excellent, access to four-year degrees is slipping out of the grasp of prospective and motivated students.
Allowing a select number of community colleges to offer baccalaureate degrees could be one way to help improve retention and graduation rates while providing otherwise-place bound students an opportunity to get a high-quality education close to home.
The California Community Colleges educate three million students every year, and have done an admirable job keeping their fees low. These schools admit the top 100% of Californians, and in so doing provide a cost-effective route towards attaining the kind of education that is valued in both the workplace and lecture hall.
This proposal isn’t a new experiment, but a tried and proven solution. States like Florida, Washington, and most recently Hawaii are among 17 states already offering bachelor’s degrees in limited fields.
Let us not forget that the Master Plan for Higher Education has helped guide California to the forefront of industry, research and academics. But even the Master Plan has been amended in the past, and it would serve our future well to do so again. It is important to keep California at the forefront of education and business.
This proposal is not only possible, it’s practical and we should not hesitate to move forward to secure California’s educational and economic future before it becomes too late.