| Under the state budget revision released last week, California community colleges received a $600 million increase, which comes on top of a $1 billion increase proposed by Gov. Jerry Brown in January.
The new money will help the state's community colleges recover from deep budget slashing during the recession, but the investment also reflects the role community colleges can play in the state's economic recovery by providing students opportunity for advancement and meeting employer demands for skilled workers. It's an opportunity the state's 112-campus community college system must not squander.
Statewide, less than half of 2.1 million students are finishing community college within six years. The outcomes are even lowerfor the state's fastest growing populations. That rate remains largely unchanged over the last two years.
We couldn't agree more with the Campaign for College Opportunity report's appeal: "When one in two children under the age of 18 in California is Latino, one conclusion is clear: the future of our economy and the state will rise or fall on the educational success of Latinos. To secure the economic future of California, we need to significantly increase the number of Latino students who are prepared for, enroll in and graduate from college."
IEBC has worked with a number of community colleges in the Golden State to help them develop and now implement "student equity plans," required under the "Student Success Initiative." The plans map out areas to measure whether and how underserved populations are making progress in earning degrees. Each college develops specific benchmarks and actions to address disparities that are discovered.
To ensure success, colleges must go beyond mere compliance to dig into their performance data and discover patterns that signal areas where students need more help. Then the key is matching the right programs and interventions that help keep students on track to earning a degree.
If we are to accomplish ambitious completion goals, California community colleges must focus, differentiate and deliver. One-size-fits-all interventions do not work in every setting or with every group of students. While California campuses share similar students and missions, each has unique barriers and opportunities to succeed which are revealed through a hard look at each institution's data and the story it tells about students' needs.
Helping California make good on the promise of the "Student Success Initiative" is a top IEBC priority. Let's share ideas. If you're on Twitter, use the #CACCGoldenOpp hashtag.