Advancing Community Colleges in DC

At the 2017 Association of Community College Trustee’s (ACCT) National Legislative Summit (NLS) held February 13-16 in Washington DC, California brought a Community College delegation befitting the largest public postsecondary system in the US. Absent an exact number of those of us traveling 6,000 miles round trip on behalf of our students and institutions, our size was evident as we squeezed together for a group photo following our state’s breakfast session:


Once there, I had the pleasure of advocating for our colleges on Capitol Hill with California Community College Trustee (CCCT) and League Board Chair, Doug Otto, League CEO Board Chair Brian King, Board of Governor’s President Cecilia Estolano, Vice President Tom Epstein, Board of Governor’s and CCCT Board member Pamela Haynes, Board of Governor’s member Deborah Malumed, Chancellor Eloy Oakley, Vice Chancellor of External Relations Laura Metune, and League colleagues and government relations experts Lizette Navarette and Ryan McElhinney.

Thirty meetings in three days didn’t permit much time for attendance at NLS conference events. Nevertheless, the California congressional delegation, selected members of key committees, Department of Education leadership and staff, and budget and policy committee and elected- member staff, were overwhelmingly supportive and appreciative of the work and mission of our sector.

Although there has been a flurry of activity by the new Administration, our meetings made clear that far more is unknown than known about our issues of concern. Still, face-to-face meetings on the Hill with 70-80 California Community College leaders meant pressing our case for year-round Pell, inclusion of workforce development as part of any significant infrastructure package, and protection and support of DACA and Dreamer students, among other priorities. And concerning DACA, we heard from members on both sides of the aisle, that DACA students were not likely not be targeted in Executive Orders in the near term, and there was as yet no indication that students and their families faced imminent threat. Still, the future remains uncertain, and vigilance and support for our students necessarily continues.

A meeting with Deputy Assistant Secretary Lynn Mahaffie at the Department of Education left little doubt that the postsecondary agenda of Secretary DeVos is unknown to those largely responsible for implementing and monitoring it; which is arguably an ideal time for advocates to describe the challenges and advocate for our students and institutions.

It was encouraging that the new Education Secretary addressed community college leaders at the closing session of the conference. In Secretary DeVos’s eight and one-half minute address (without an opportunity for questions and answers), there were references to the success of early college programs, the flexibility and nimbleness of the nation’s community colleges, and the importance of our workforce and developmental education missions. Still, those present hoping for a substantive policy speech would have to wait for another occasion. And concerns about the vocationalization of community colleges were likely considering the sparse recognition of liberal arts and transfer education.

At Wednesday morning’s California Delegation breakfast, we heard from Kamal Essaheb, Director of Policy & Advocacy at the National Immigration Law Center, who opened with a personal reflection on his experience as a Moroccan immigrant living in New York and being subjected to extensive questioning following the September 11th attacks. He also offered to assist districts and colleges concerned with a variety of issues including DACA and the legal status of colleges and undocumented students.

Although the League’s advocacy will focus on the budget and policy emanating from our state Capitol in Sacramento, it is clear that a more consistent and muscular presence in Washington, D.C. The League will be offering more updates and information as information concerning federal issues becomes available.

Quality Public Community Colleges for all Californians

The January 27, 2017 Executive Order suspending entry of nationals from seven majority Muslim countries serves to renew and reinforce the League’s commitment to the multinational, multiethnic, and extraordinarily diverse student body attending California’s 113 Community Colleges.

Indeed, California’s community colleges and the states’ pioneering tripartite system of public higher education represents a powerful countervailing argument to an overly broad policy premised on sweeping generalizations of entire national populations and religions.

With approximately one of every five community college students in the U.S. attending a California community college and more than 67% of California community college students from diverse ethnic backgrounds, the League remains steadfast in its commitment to supporting and advocating for investment, policies, evidence-based educational practices, and campus environments that advance upward social mobility and a more democratic and prosperous California.

League Strategy 2021

“Quality public community colleges for all Californians.”

The League’s recently crafted organizational vision statement appears especially apt in this post-election environment; both for its mention of all Californians, and its considered use of the modifier public.

Similar to districts and colleges, the League’s reconceptualized Strategic Plan maintains fundamental elements of its mission, however important changes reflect deliberate and considered choices emerging from the planning process.

The CEO, Trustee, and League Boards affirmed and approved the 2016-2021 Strategic Plan presented here.

The strategic planning process began in April of this year when the League engaged the Sacramento-based Weiss Group to facilitate the work.  Following an extensive review of the League’s organizational background, historical planning materials, and strategic planning documents, we created the planning process and working agenda for a League Staff planning retreat.

League Staff appreciate that many of you responded to the surveys that we sent in June and July.  The surveys sought to identify the most significant challenges confronting districts and colleges; perceived satisfaction with the work of the League; the most valued League services and programs; what League priorities should be, and how the League might provide the greatest value to our primary constituencies.

Budget volatility and inadequacy, and student remediation and completion emerged as the top concerns in our surveys of CEOs and Trustees.  The Weiss Group met with the CEO and Trustee Boards to discuss issues and concerns to inform the Strategic Plan.

In late July, League Staff met for a two-day retreat to analyze and deliberate upon the evidence collected from the surveys and discussions with League stakeholders, and to identity the central elements and principles for the new Strategic Plan.  Following the retreat and the identification of five primary strategic goals, League Staff broke into five “Goal Groups” to create action plans and indicators of achievement to facilitate implementation and assessment of the work.

While proud of the vision and values inherent in the 2016-2021 League Strategic Plan, our most important task is to work strategically and relentlessly to advance our mission to achieve the vision co-created by all of us engaged in the critical work of California’s Community Colleges.

As always, League Staff invite your continued input and feedback on our efforts, and we look forward to supporting and serving you in these interesting and challenging times.

By Larry Galizio, President/CEO
Community College League of California

Advancing the Community College Baccalaureate Degree

Senate Bill 850 – the Community College Baccalaureate Degree Pilot Program:
An Informational Hearing on SB 850 Implementation by the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee No. 1
By Larry Galizio, President/CEO, Community College League of California

On November 1st, I participated in an Informational Hearing of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Subcommittee on the status and implementation of Senator Marty Block’s 2014 legislation establishing the community college baccalaureate degree pilot program. The hearing took place at San Diego City College’s Corporate Education Center and was hosted by Chancellor Constance Carroll and the San Diego Community College District.

In addition to Chair Block, present were Subcommittee members and Senators Benjamin Allen (26th District) and Jerry Hill (13th District), as well as the Chair of the Assembly’s Higher Education Committee, Jose Medina (61st District).

The hearing included updates and perspectives on California’s demand for the baccalaureate degree, the status and next steps of SB 850 implementation and discussion of San Diego workforce needs.

Subcommittee members were engaged throughout the two and one-half hour hearing peppering panelists with questions on a wide variety of pertinent issues. Questions included: “What obstacles do colleges and districts face in establishing baccalaureate degree programs?” “Are we accurately defining duplication when considering where and when to launch community college baccalaureate degree programs?” “Why 15 pilot programs, why not 30”?

Dr. Patrick Murphy, Director of Research and Senior Fellow with the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), presented data and the analysis leading to the projection that by 2030 California will have a deficit of 1.1 to 1.4 million baccalaureate degree-holders needed to meet the demands of industry. PPIC policy papers detailing this information are available here:

PPIC cites demographic trends rather than technological and/or industry changes as the most significant factor driving this education attainment gap. With the most highly educated generation of US workers poised to retire over the next 20 years, the less-educated 25- to 34 year-olds following those born between 1946 and 1964 represents an historic and dramatic shift in California’s workforce population. PPIC estimates that should current trends persist, 38 percent of all jobs will depend on workers with at least a bachelor’s degree, however only 33 percent of workers will possess such a degree in 2030 (Johnson, Cuellar Mejia, Bohn, 2015).

Dr. Murphy and PPIC posit three “scenarios” to confront this education attainment gap: 1) Increase transfer rates from community colleges to CSU and UC; 2) Increase overall college degree attainment at all levels; 3) Increase completions at CSU and UC. Still, PPIC and Murphy admit that even if all three scenarios produce moderate increases in degrees in the coming years, California will still be approximately 600,000 short of the bachelor-degree educated individuals required to meet statewide demand.

In my own testimony considering our state’s need for bachelor degrees, I suggested that a necessary fourth approach includes establishment of the community college baccalaureate degree in our state. By joining the more than 20 states in the US that permit community colleges to confer baccalaureate degrees, California’s largest system of public higher education (as well as the nations), can more effectively confront the demographic and economic challenges that we face.

Moreover, concomitant to California’s industry demand for a more educated workforce is the necessity for our colleges and universities to offer students and families affordable, practical, quality baccalaureate degrees. California’s demand for the baccalaureate degree includes student and family demand for affordable, accessible, quality career technical education programs.

As demonstrated in UCLA’s Cooperative Institutional Research Program data from 2015, today’s students are more price sensitive in their choices to attend particular colleges and universities and more focused on securing a better financial future than incoming freshman have been in the past 50 years.

Following the discussion of the state’s demand for bachelor’s degrees, we heard from, among others, Grossmont President Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh, who described the educational and economic context and the need for a community college bachelor’s degree in Nursing; a fact reiterated by Chancellor Carroll in response to a question about the most needed community college baccalaureate programs.

Vice Chancellor Pam Walker provided a densely packed and highly informative overview of the process leading to the selection of the 15 pilot programs under SB 850, the required work at the Chancellor’s Office to assist colleges in implementing them, and a host of pertinent issues concerning the nuts and bolts of implementation – including ongoing and future requirements of the pilot.

Finally, Chancellor Carroll, Superintendent/President Sunny Cook, and CSU Fullerton Distinguished Faculty member Ding-Jo Currie, offered their perspectives and experiences on a variety of significant issues surrounding the past, present, and future of SB 850 and the community college baccalaureate. The discussion included information on San Diego Mesa College’s experience with their Health Information Management Baccalaureate Pilot Program, as well as further evidence of the needs and benefits of a community college baccalaureate in California.

As it was likely the final hearing on SB 850’s chief sponsor, Senator Marty Block, the hearing also offered an opportunity for constituencies supportive of this work to extend gratitude to this legislative champion for the community college baccalaureate.