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April 19, 2011
I regret to inform you that your community college will be closing. In fact, all of the community colleges within 50 miles are closing.
It’s easy to get lost and not be able to comprehend the big statewide numbers in California. What is $685 million in additional cuts in a system that spends billions? What does it mean when we eliminate 400,000 students from California’s community colleges that serve “millions”?
Today, when I speak at a special hearing of the Assembly Budget Committee in Rialto, I will try to put it in context. The difference between the governor’s balanced approach and the all-cuts budget (as identified by the Legislative Analyst) is the equivalent of shutting every community college within 50 miles of Rialto.
That’s right. It would take eliminating all state funding for Chaffey, Citrus, Crafton Hills, Desert, Mt. San Antonio, Mt. San Jacinto, Moreno Valley, Norco, Riverside City, and Victor Valley colleges to make up the difference between a balanced approach and an all-cuts budget.
The 400,000 students who would be forced out—and the 10,000 teachers and thousands of staff members who would lose their jobs—are not nameless and faceless. They are our children, our parents, our neighbors, our friends, our family. That is what this budget fight is about.
This morning’s SF Chronicle reports how three UC campuses have shifted freshmen slots from in-state residents to out-of-state residents, and a shocking table shows that of 6,167 additional students added to UC over the last two years, only 657 are California residents. While it’s not my job to criticize UC’s decision making and budgeting, I know that the assumption is that students will be redirected to community colleges. However, the slots just won’t be there.
Thomas Paine said “These are the times that try men’s souls.” While this isn’t the revolutionary war, indeed, these are the times that try our values, our morals, our character. Most of us have the blessing of a public higher education provided by the State of California. Will we turn around and lock the gates behind us?
It’s Spring Break for legislators, but their offices are still open. If you haven’t called the swing legislators in awhile, it’s time to do it again.
President and Chief Executive Officer, The League
Orange Coast College ‘94