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Das Targets Waiting Lists

Assemblymember Goes After Problem at City Colleges


Thursday, December 13, 2012
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Shortly after being sworn in for his second term in the State Assembly, Democrat Das Williams vowed to restore access to California’s community college system, describing “immoral” and “devastating” cuts that have put half-a-million students on waiting lists for classes not being offered. At Santa Barbara City College this past fall, the number was 1,500. As the new chair of the Assembly Committee on Higher Education, Williams is in a position to do something about it.

Although funding shortfalls lay outside the scope of his committee’s authority, Williams said he’s examining a handful of proposed solutions, each one more unpopular than the next. “The trick is find the solution people hate the least but can do the most good,” he commented. To date he has yet to endorse any. Class-size increases are on the table, he said, as are limits on the number of credits any one student can take. By limiting the classes available to “perpetual” students, room could be made for students seeking to graduate. Some community colleges are now charging more for advanced or elective classes. Some have pushed to give priority to students just enrolling.

Williams said there was a great sense of relief and gratitude in Sacramento that Proposition 30 passed, meaning that $6 billion in additional cuts did not have to be implemented. “Prop. 30 was a life raft, not a panacea,” he said. Although the recent election appeared to give Democrats the two-thirds majority needed to pass spending measures, Williams said it will take another year before that supermajority is actually sworn in. At that point, he said, he might be open to changes allowing school districts and local governments to get bonds approved with a 55-percent majority rather than the two-thirds now required.

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" Williams said it will take another year before that supermajority is actually sworn in."

Hers is how with the supermajority scramble:

Democrats now have two-thirds majorities in both chambers of the Legislature -- 29 of 40 seats in the Senate and 54 of 80 in the Assembly. But they will lose their supermajority in the Assembly in late April and most likely won't get it back for the rest of the year. Here's how a revolving door of departures and arrivals will wipe out the supermajority in the Assembly for the better part of 2013:
Senate Democrats will retain their two-thirds majority even after two Democrats -- Sens. Gloria Negrete McLeod, D-Chino, and Juan Vargas, D-San Diego -- leave for Congress in early January. But Assembly Democrats will likely lose their two-thirds majority in late April because two of their members -- Ben Hueso, D-Chula Vista, and Norma Torres, D-Pomona -- are expected to win election to those vacant Senate seats. That would leave Democrats with 52 members in the Assembly -- short of a two-thirds majority -- at least until an early August special election.
But it gets even more complicated: Another Assembly member, Bob Blumenfield, D-Van Nuys, is expected to run in the spring for the Los Angeles City Council. If he wins, his seat would become vacant July 1, leaving Assembly Democrats three shy of a supermajority. Even if they regain the two seats vacated by Hueso and Torres in August, Assembly Democrats would be one shy of a supermajority until a special election is held in late October to replace Blumenfield.
And that's not all: Sen. Curren Price, D-Los Angeles, is expected to run for another open seat on the Los Angeles City Council in the spring. If he wins, Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Culver City, plans to run for Price's Senate seat in the October special election. If she wins, as expected, a special election for her seat won't be held until January 2014, when the Democrats are expected to regain their supermajority.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 10:28 a.m. (Suggest removal)

As a community college student leader, I am glad that Das got the Chair of the Assembly Higher Education Committee as he has had the experience of attending a community college.
Unfortunately, he has to pick up where the California economy left off. I remember a statement that was said from a California State Senator in August during the Middle Class Scholarship debate that the state should base its budget around education. Dropping from 2.9 million to 2.4 shows that budget has not been provided.
However, the state should continue to fund education without digressing from the 1960 California Master Plan for Higher Education. Up until the passage of Prop 13, community college education was free, and within the past 5 years, enrollment fees have gone up 130% from $20 to $46, while at the same time, turning students away by offering less courses or from students being unable to pay due to not receiving the Board of Governors fee waiver. The big question with students is: Why should we pay for the failures of the past generation?
Last month, the Student Senate for California Community Colleges passed a resolution at our state conference where we will oppose any form of two-tiered system, performance based funding, and extension programs that move away from the Master Plan.
In the article, it states, "Some community colleges are now charging more for advanced or elective classes." I am unaware of any college that is offering this right now as the two-tiered system was defeated at Santa Monica College in the Spring upon which, even students from Northern California drove down to oppose a enrollment fee of $180 per unit. Though the two-tier system does allow more classes and gives students the opportunity to get their classes, but only to those who are able to pay. It takes away the equality that a community college provides.
I can support class size increases or more classes offered online. Even the possibility of doing all homework online and making it mandatory for community college students to meet with their professors during office hours to promote student success.

Valarveloxn (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 11:08 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I need to finish my education to receive a Degree in Criminal Justice, I would much rather complete my classes on-line than in person, so if the College were to expand anything, the On-line Educational system (much like U of Ph) would be prefered and at lower cost providing SBCC IT department was expanded to allow a broader bandwinth and greater streaming, I could finish those classes and then off to George Washington University for a B A degree in Security Intelligence.

dou4now (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 12:02 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The best thing Das Williams could do for education in California is cut back on the prison system. See this story in today's NYT: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/12/sci.... It notes 30 years ago California spent 10% of its budget on education on education and 3% on prisons; now its' 10+% on prisons and below 8% on education.

The prison guard union has something to do with that along with the uneducated clamor of the voters for more jails and longer sentences.

Valarveloxn, as student leader, as you say, that's the explanation of why the present financial situation is as it is. Prisons are apparently this state's priority.

at_large (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 12:23 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Das Williams

July 5, 2012 SB 1029 Authorizes the Sale of State Bonds for a High-Speed Rail Bill Passed - House
(52 - 28) Yea

The funds appropriated in this item shall only be made available for expenditure upon the enactment of an appropriation of $3,240,676,000 in Item 2665-306- 0890, an appropriation of $2,609,076,000 in Item 2665-306-6043 for the Initial Operating Segment of the High-Speed Rail System, and an appropriation of $1,100,000,000 in Item 2665-104-6043 for “Bookend” funding, as articulated in the 2012 High-Speed Rail Authority Final Business Plan.

When Das says he supports education, just follow the money, and then you'll know where he really stands.

Georgy (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 3:12 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Have you noticed these legislative bills are never in English?

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 3:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How did we get to this current state of affairs and the set-off between prison guard unions and teachers unions?

No one has done a better job explaining the history in this state than the recent Bloomburg article, that also graced the front pages of a recent NewsPress: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12...

No, it was not Prop 13. Prop 98 passed soon after guaranteed 50% of all state tax revenues would be dedicated only to education so plenty of money was flowing in to schools when the state economy was thriving. Greedy public employee unions took the lion's share of those guaranteed dollars.

Prison guards demanded their share of the left-overs too. Remember how they got voters to support Three Strikes and You are Out - all coasting on guaranteed benefits for prision guard unions at the same time.

Any analysis at that time could see this coming. And now the day of reckoning has arrived. We got this point step by step. Only the public employee unions hold the key to stepping back from this brink but now they are too entrenched and too powerful with their Union shop rules firmly in place and full majorities in both legislative houses that here is your villian to tackle; not Prop 13.

But if you want to waste your time chasing politically motivated straw dogs, go ahead. Das of course speaks with forked tongue. He is clearly a water carrier for the public employee unions, particularly the teachers unions. And Dem Central com just issued their opposition against crime-fighting gang injunctions.

I think you can see what is coming. Defund public safety that means a lot to taxpayers, play the race card and secure the left over goodies for the teachers who are simply not satisfied with the 50% share of all state income they get anyway.

Das needs to explain why California teachers are refusing to take federal Race to the Top dollars that require reforms California's powerful teachers unions refuse to accept before he gets on his bandwagon trashing Prop 13 and the equally powerful prison guard unions.

William's mutterings are just providing cover for his real bosses: the teachers unions. Pay him no mind.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 3:54 p.m. (Suggest removal)

High Speed Rail today has become the Welfare Queens of the 80s.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 4:07 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Trying-Too-Hard False Equivalence of the Day --

: : "High Speed Rail today has become the Welfare Queens of the 80s." (John_Adams)

binky (anonymous profile)
December 13, 2012 at 5:32 p.m. (Suggest removal)

How sad. Valarveloxn claims to be a "community college student leader" yet his writing skills should embarrass a high school sophomore. If his grasp of the King's English is representative of community college students, I truly despair. Our education dollars apparently are being wasted.

SezMe (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2012 at 1:23 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Georgy stole my thunder. Yep, the same people who cry the blues about lack of money for education have no problem supporting boondoggles such as the high-speed rail. Of course, if Prop 13 is ended altogether, a lot of old, sick people on fixed incomes will become homeless, but such data aren't figured into progressive idealism.

billclausen (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2012 at 3:29 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Prop 98 guarantees 50% of all state tax revenues go to education. How much more do the teachers unions want?

Additionally, SB schools already have TEN (Count 'em - (10) separate bond/parcel taxes on your recent property tax bills on top of the 50% Prop 98 guaranteed taxes going directly into their coffers.

As Sezme points out, schools are still graduating semi-literate students who are woefully deficient in even the simplest elementary math skills as well.

What in fact is getting taught in our schools during those 180 days of instruction that absorb 50% of all our state tax revenues?

Keep asking these questions:

How much more will teachers unions demand?
What achievement results will they promise in return?
Why do you think this is totally out of control?

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2012 at 8:40 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Valarveloxn,

80-90% of college expenses go to personnel costs and benefits. This is why your student tuition had to increase so much.

Since the state investments can't afford teacher pension promises, more of your own present education dollars now goes to pay off promise made to retired teachers.

Sure, you think your teachers should be paid well, and they are. In fact a lot more than pre-Prop 13. But if they can't teach you to construct a proper sentence, why should taxpayers shovel even more money at them?

How would your classroom experience have changed if your teachers were making even more money?

Tenure insures you would be getting exactly the same teachers who have already failed you to date. Why would increasing their take-home pay influence how they conduct their classrooms?

Perhaps they would stop wasting class time complaining to their students how under-paid, over-worked and under-appreciated they are? Perhaps.

Oblati (anonymous profile)
December 14, 2012 at 8:56 a.m. (Suggest removal)