Stay up to date with the latest news and information on California higher education. Plus, blogs that are unabashedly pro-higher education, offering what you need to know to be a passionate advocate for our colleges and universities.

Now for the hard part: translating vision for community colleges into student success

On July 18, 2017, EdSource reported, “Now for the hard part: translating vision for community colleges into student success.” The article reports on a new document titled “Vision for Success,” adopted by California’s Community College system.

Here’s an excerpt from the report:

“Despite some modest gains in student outcomes, the community college system is not performing at the level needed to reliably provide students with opportunities for mobility and to meet California’s future workforce needs.”

The article continues:

The report sets a number of goals for the system, such as increasing by 20 percent the number of community college students who end up with associate degrees, or obtain certification for “specific skill sets that prepare them for an in-demand job.”

It sets a target of increasing by 35 percent the number of community colleges who transfer each year to UC and CSU. It calls for reducing the average number of units a community college student accumulates from 87 units to 79 units.

Individual colleges are urged to do more to encourage students to attend full time, especially younger students who are not responsible for supporting family members. Students should be encouraged to complete 30 units per year.

However, the community colleges face substantial challenges in realizing the ambitious and worthy goals outlined in the report. The community colleges comprise a decentralized system in which campuses are organized into 72 districts overseen by locally elected boards of trustees. As a result, edicts from Sacramento will not have their desired outcomes unless there is buy-in at a local level.

Read the complete article on the EdSource website.

Cal State trustees grapple with boosting graduation rates and enrollment

On July 18, 2017, the Los Angeles Times reported, “Cal State trustees grapple with boosting graduation rates and enrollment.” Here’s an excerpt:

About 31,000 fully qualified students were turned away from California State University for the fall term because their desired school was at capacity, administrators told trustees during a meeting Tuesday as they discussed budget challenges and new directives to increase enrollment at the largest public university system in the nation.

In regards to additional state funding, the Times reported:

The funding boost for this fiscal year, which began July 1, amounted to about half of the additional money trustees had estimated was necessary to meet their budget needs. Revenue from the tuition increase will help cover some of the remaining budget gap.

Read the complete article on the Los Angeles Times website.

Meeting California’s Need for College Graduates: A Regional Perspective

A new report from the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) addresses “Meeting California’s Need for College Graduates: A Regional Perspective.” Here’s an excerpt from the June 2017 report:

California needs 1.1 million more workers with bachelor’s degrees by 2030 to keep up with economic demand. More college graduates would mean higher incomes, greater economic mobility, more tax revenue, and less demand for social services. In addressing this projected shortfall, three regions will play an especially critical role: Los Angeles County, the Inland Empire, and the San Joaquin Valley. Indeed, improving college outcomes in these regions could help close more than half of the statewide skills gap.

The report offers recommendations:

Despite the challenges ahead, considerable progress has already occurred. Student preparation for college is up in all three regions, as are college enrollment and graduation rates. Our research highlights several opportunities to build on this progress:

  • Increase capacity at four-year universities by continuing to focus on four-year graduation rates and encouraging satellite campuses.
  • Streamline the transfer pathway by aligning student success initiatives among community colleges, public universities, and private nonprofit colleges in the same region.
  • Develop regional promise programs with common standards to reduce inequities and expand reach beyond what local programs can offer.
  • Support regional data-sharing partnerships, such as the Central Valley Higher Education Consortium and Growing Inland Achievement, to promote the coordination and evaluation of regional efforts.

Read the report and summary on the PPIC website.

California lawmakers chip away at state’s college affordability crisis

On July 6, 2017, CALmatters reported, “California lawmakers chip away at state’s college affordability crisis.” CALmatters is a nonpartisan, nonprofit journalism venture committed to explaining how California’s state Capitol works and why it matters.  Here’s an excerpt of the article:


Yes. The state budget Brown signed last week includes about $50 million in new funding for community college students—money targeted for living expenses. Recipients of Cal Grants, which help pay for tuition and fees, will now qualify for nearly $2,500 in new state grants for living expenses, depending on how many credits they take per year.

The budget also protects the Middle Class Scholarship program, even though critics have raised questions about whether the grants are serving the families it was designed to target.

Cochrane said she’s pleased that Sacramento is finally paying attention to college affordability. Her organization is part of a coalition that proposed several alternatives for the Legislature to consider next year when it revives talks on the Assembly’s “degrees not debt” plan.

“The focus on big proposals is exciting,” Cochrane said. “It signals a willingness and interest in dedicating new resources to higher education affordability. The next question to discuss is how to spend that money.”

Read the complete article on the CALmatters website.

California State University will soon offer admission to all qualified applicants

On June 19, 2017, the Mercury News reported, “California State University will soon offer admission to all qualified applicants.” Here’s an excerpt:

Students who qualify for admission to California State University will soon get an acceptance letter from at least one of the system’s 23 campuses. …

Under the state’s new budget deal, qualified California students who don’t get into their campus of choice will be admitted to another campus with space. The change is modeled after the University of California’s policy. UC promises admission to students who rank in the top 9 percent of graduates in the state. …

The assemblyman acknowledged funding constraints present a challenge, but said the newest budget includes more money for CSU to enroll more students. CSU has until next May to come up with a policy.

“We will engage faculty and administrative leadership to determine how we can best move forward to implement these directives that are intended to better serve Californians,” CSU Chancellor Timothy White said in a statement Monday morning.

Read the complete article on the Mercury News website.

New Op-Ed: The University of California Doesn’t Need Fixing

On June 9, 2017, Fox & Hounds published an op-ed from Dick Ackerman and Mel Levine, co-chairs of the California Coalition for Public Higher Education, titled, “The University of California Doesn’t Need Fixing.”  Here’s an excerpt:

For more than 50 years, under California’s Master Plan for Higher Education, UC has been the linchpin of the finest public higher education system in the world.  One of the things that has made UC work so well is its independence from political command and control.  The independent Board of Regents—appointed by the Governor with the consent of the State Senate—is UC’s governing body.  Now some legislators are making proposals to greatly weaken the independence of the Regents by shortening their terms and taking over budgetary controls. 

UC governance is hardly in need of a makeover.  The University of California is the best in the country and the world by virtually every count.  In the latest rankings of public universities by U.S. News and World Report, UC campuses occupied six of the top ten slots—headed by UC Berkeley Number 1 and UCLA number 2.   When it comes to providing the greatest opportunity and economic diversity, the recent New York Times measurement of colleges doing the most for the American Dream” placed five UC campuses at the head of the list.

There is a constant frustration that more California students can’t be admitted to the campus of their choice.  That problem is really the product of decades of under-funding by the State, which has inhibited growth in capacity and forced a greater reliance on fees and tuition.   Per student State support for UC remains little more than a third of what it was forty years ago.  Over the past decade, UC’s share of the State General Fund is down 14%.  Like the California State University system and the community colleges, UC has been forced to do more with less.

Read the complete op-ed on the Fox & Hounds website.

LA Times Op-Ed: When California and the UC system fight, the state’s kids and its economy lose

On June 5, 2017, published an op-ed “When California and the UC system fight, the state’s kids and its economy lose.”  Here’s an excerpt:

Brown and our representatives are grandstanding, talking about punishing UC by withholding funds that might be needed for actual education and exerting more control over UC through the president’s office. …

If there’s a big problem at UC, both sides should agree on an independent, outside organization — not an auditing agency that works for the governor — to examine the situation, and where California’s great research university system should go from here. The rancor between UC and state leaders over the past few years isn’t good for the university, California or the state’s high-achieving students who rely on it for an affordable, first-rate higher education.

Read the complete op-ed on the LA Times website.


California public higher ed tops New York Times’ rankings of “Colleges Doing the Most for the American Dream”

California public higher ed tops The New York Times’ rankings of “Colleges Doing the Most for the American Dream,” with UCs taking 6 of the top 10 spots.  Learn more on the The New York Times website.

Commentary: Blaming Berkeley

On May 1, 2017, Connecting California columnist and editor, Zócalo Public Square, fellow at the Center for Social Cohesion at Arizona State University and co-author of California Crackup: How Reform Broke the Golden State and How We Can Fix It (UC Press, 2010), published an opinion on the Fox & Hounds website.  Here’s an excerpt:

Thank you, Berkeley.

Recent headlines should remind Californians of yet another way we are lucky. Our state has the world’s best scapegoat: you.

You—our most distinguished public university and all the people, institutions and neighborhoods surrounding it — do far more than research and educate. You serve the vital social purpose of being a convenient punching bag for angry people of all manner of ideological preoccupations.

The right and the center can pin all of California’s liberal sins, real and imagined, on you. And the left sees a reactionary threat in everything, from your fundraising, to police action on or near campus, to the presence of law professor John Yoo, who defended torture under President George W. Bush. Sometimes you’re denounced as dangerously permissive, and other times you’re frighteningly authoritarian.

And when it comes to higher education’s struggles, legislators on both sides of the aisle blame you for everything: You’re too arrogant, and you charge too much and you let in too many out-of-state students—even though the need to pocket that higher out-of-state tuition is the direct result of the legislature’s systematic disinvestment in you and your sister university campuses across California.

Yes, California as a whole takes a lot of critical blows. But can you imagine how more bloodied the rest of our state would be if we didn’t have you around to absorb so much abuse?

Read the complete article on the Fox & Hounds website.

LA Times Editorial: UC’s $175 million in hidden funds might not be $175 million — and they might not be hidden

On April 28, 2017, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board published an editorial, “UC’s $175 million in hidden funds might not be $175 million — and they might not be hidden.” Here’s an excerpt:

Still, it’s naïve to read the audit without also considering the troubling political backdrop. This is the eighth audit of UC in just a few years, urged on by legislators who have their own vision of UC’s mission and their own political agendas. They have long hinted at — or openly advocated — giving the Legislature and governor more control over the university and its educational priorities. What’s stopping them? The California Constitution, which grants the regents that authority.

It was smart to give UC that autonomy. Politicians make notoriously lousy educators, and their handling of the state’s public schools should give no one any confidence in their ability to run one of the world’s great universities. The audit’s call for a tighter leash on UC’s operations seems unfounded at this point.

The joint committee meeting this week needs to be a genuine search for truth, not a stage for political rhetoric or unfounded attack.

Read the complete article on the LA Times website.