© Getty Images, 2012

Rivera, C. (2012) Survey offers dire picture of California’s two-year colleges Los Angeles Times, August 28

Due to funding cuts, 470,000 community college students are beginning the fall semester on waiting lists, unable to get into the courses they need. Enrollments are down 17% from 2008, representing almost exactly the shortfall of 470,000 places. California’s community college system, the nation’s largest, has suffered about $809 million in state funding cuts since 2008. It faces another $338-million hit midyear if voters reject a tax measure on the November ballot supported by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Chancellor Jack Scott: “The real problem is we don’t have the financial resources to offer the courses that we could fill. In the long run, it’s going to be hurtful to the economy. These are the individuals who are going to make up the future workforce of California.”

These students also tend to be among the neediest. They typically require remedial classes, financial aid, tutoring and counseling. And many are juggling school with jobs.


None needed, except to say that with the California State University system now outsourcing online learning to Pearson, the destruction of public post-secondary education in California is well on its way. Republicans, China and other economic rivals, and future immigrant workers who will take the jobs of unskilled Californians may rejoice, but it is the people of California who will be hurt the most.


  1. Two year colleges should be the backbone of any PSE system. Unlike universities which take students out of the real world, community colleges allow students to stay in the real world (working, raising families, upgrading, etc.). They provide the technical workers the world needs. They also provide that step up for students who want to go to university but had less than stellar high school careers and/or lack the money to go directly into a 4 year program. As a graduate of an American “junior” college, I know that I would never have gone into a doctoral program without the help and attention I that I got during those first 2 years. As an ex-American, it saddens me to see the attack on education from grade school to college down in the states. Does the “Right” really believe that the good of their country is served by having an uneducated populous? Will Canada follow along?

    • Thanks for a great comment, Ron.

      Having also worked in a two year community college, I fully agree with you about how important they are for economic development and especially for giving many students a second chance at post-secondary education.

      Will Canada follow the US in cutting funding to colleges? I don’t think so. They are not called community colleges in Canada for nothing!

  2. I do not agree with Tony in many occasions, though I appreciate his works very highly.
    He is one of the pioneers in online learning .
    ” California State University system noıw outsourcing online learning to PEARSON ”

    Do you mean Community colleges are outsourcing online to Pearson or whole California State Universities such as berkeley, Irvine, Santa Barbara, David, San Bernardino etc.

    What ever it is , it is wrong . Who is Pearson to provide college education . ONLINE should be gotten from the best schools in the world even not USA .
    If State of Califlornia is willing to order online courses itg should order it to MIT .
    Now MIT has the best online technology and ” learning theory and leasrning design ” in the world .
    They even provide online courses for High Schools , then why not for community colleges .
    If State of California pays the right investment , which is not too much , for online community colleges
    that can be solved by MIT . I hope they will be willing. This would be the greatest service MIT would do , in fact not only California Community colleges but for all community colleges in the USA..
    Investment is done only once .

    • Hi, Muvaffak

      I’m not an expert on the California HE system, but as I understand it there are three state subsidized components:
      (a) the University of California system, which includes 10 campuses, including Berkeley, UCLA, Davis, and each campus operates fairly autonomously, although all graduates receive a degree from the University of California
      (b) the California State University system, which has 23 campuses, all different from the UofC campuses (although often in the same city as the UofC campuses). Graduates get a degree from the California State University.
      (c) the California Community College system, with 112 campuses, offering mainly vocational and general education programs. Students who graduate get a diploma or certificate, and can often transfer in to the CSU system with their credits from the CCC counting towards a degree.

      It is only the CSU system that, through its central chancellor’s office, has signed the outsourcing agreement with Pearson. My understanding is that each California State University campus can still continue to develop its own online programs if it wishes, in which case it will be in direct competition with the Pearson-supported programs.

      Until recently California had the best publicly funded higher education system in the world, in terms of accessibility, comprehensiveness, and quality. It is a tragedy that this is now being eroded because of political dogma.

      Can anyone from California help me out on this?!

      • Tony,

        You’re correct about the three systems. I’m originally from California and went through two of them.

        I often speak fondly of my years at a community college in Ventura County. I spent more than two years there taking many many courses because I could. When I started a little more than 20 years ago it cost $50 per term for tuition (plus books, parking and the health fee). Many of my courses transfered when I went to a school in the CSU system so I only needed to spend two years there. The community colleges serve a number of purposes including providing the opportunity for those who can’t afford four years (or more depending on course availability) to get some post-secondary education that they can either take into the workplace or transfer to another institution.

        What’s happening to post-secondary in my home state is a very bad sign for the future of California (and I suspect many other states).

  3. It hurts me to read this…I was affiliated with the Californian Community College for a long time and truly believed in its function and power. A friend’s son had been waiting fo two years to take a pre-requisite course from a community college in southern California, only to find out that the course offering was not a guarantee. He had to work for some time to starting taking courses again at a state university.


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