August, 2017

Final Four Weeks of Legislative Session                                                                   

The California Legislature returns from summer recess on Monday. In the four remaining weeks of the first year of the two-year 2017-18 legislative session, several key community college-focused bills will be considered.

Below is a status of some of the bills tracked by the League.

AB 19 (Santiago) Enrollment Fee Waiver

Would allow community college districts to waive the enrollment fee for  one academic year for first-time students who enroll in 12 units per term and submit either a Free Application for Federal Student Aid or a California Dream Act application, if the college meets specified requirements consistent with the requirements of the California Promise Innovation Grant Program. The bill has an anticipated cost of around $30 million per year.

Status: Senate Appropriations Committee
Position: Watch

AB 204 (Medina) Community Colleges: Student Success and Support Program Funding

Would require the Board of Governors (BOG) to review for consistency any due process standards adopted to appeal the loss of a BOG fee waiver. It would also require each community college district to, at least once every three years, examine the impact of the minimum academic and progress standards and determine whether those standards have had a disproportionate impact on a specific class of students.

Status: Senate Appropriations
Position: Support

AB 705 (Irwin) Matriculation: Assessment

The bill would require California Community Colleges to use high school performance data when determining a student’s readiness for college-level English and math. It also prohibits community colleges from requiring students to enroll in remedial coursework unless research proves that the students are highly unlikely to succeed in college- level coursework.

Status: Senate Appropriations Committee
Position: Support

AB 1651 (Reyes) Academic Employees: Paid Administrative Leave

AB 1651 would require colleges to provide a copy of the written complaint to alleged perpetrators two days prior to their placement on paid administrative leave. Employees are placed on administrative leave due to serious allegations such as sexual misconduct, significant misallocation of resources, fraud and embezzlement, or other charges. Potential impacts of AB 1651 (Reyes) include the inability to guarantee or protect confidentiality of alleged victims, a requirement to provide proof that withholding the complaint is justified under AB 1651 and compromising the fact-finding process before a formal investigation has begun.

The League believes this will result in a chilling effect on college students reporting sexual assault and harassment incidents. The bill establishes a dangerous precedent and jeopardizes student safety, confidentiality and will likely increase liability on community colleges.

Status: Senate Floor
Position: Oppose Unless Amended to only provide a letter with the general nature for placement on administrative leave. Opposed to providing an advanced copy of the complaint.

SB 169 (Jackson) Education: Sex Equity

SB 169 would require the governing board of each community college district and other segments of higher education in California to implement policies and procedures on sexual harassment. SB 169 also seeks to conform with some of the guidelines in the “Dear Colleague” letter issued by the United States Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights on April 4, 2011 relating to sexual harassment and sexual violence.

Status: Passed in Assembly Higher Education Committee.
Position: Working with author on final amendments.

SB 769 (Hill) Baccalaureate Degree Pilot Program

SB 769 would extend the sunset on the current California Community College Baccalaureate Degree Pilot Program, from 2023 to 2028.

Status: Assembly Appropriations Committee
Position: Support

League Extends Support for Pell Grants

Pell  Grants  are  the  foundation  of  our  national  investment  in  higher  education, giving low-income students the opportunity to pursue a college degree and enter the workforce. This year, Pell Grants will help over 7.5 million students — including one-third of all white students, two-thirds of all black students, and half of all Latino students — continue their education after high school.

The League has joined a coalition of higher education and social justice advocates that seek to persuade Congress to take action on Pell Grants. In the current proposal, the maximum Pell Grant award will no longer adjust with inflation after this upcoming school year. As costs for students continue to rise,  ending the annual inflation adjustment is — in real terms — a cut to the value of the Pell Grant.

Even now, the maximum Pell Grant covers less than 30 percent of the average cost of attendance at a public, four-year institution — resulting in its lowest purchasing power in over 40 years. For the last five years, indexation has played a critical role in preventing further decline of the historically low purchasing power of the current Pell Grant. If Congress fails to continue the adjustment, Pell students

would see the buying power of their awards reduced drastically. In 10 years, with the award frozen at its current amount, the grant will cover only one-fifth of college costs. In this economy where postsecondary credentials are critical for pursuing a career, these financial barriers significantly limit social mobility and the availability of a skilled workforce; and we cannot afford to let the obstacles become even greater.

Congress made an important investment in fiscal year 2017 by restoring access to Pell Grants year- round. But that step alone is not enough. Without action to maintain the inflation adjustment, students will face a decline in their aid.

Federal Grant Opportunities

The  League  in  partnership  with  Downs  Government  Affairs  present  the  following     federal  grant opportunities for districts and colleges:

Dislocated Worker Opportunity Grants
Agency: U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration Estimated Total Program Funding: $35,000,000
Maximum Grant Award: $4,300,000
Closing Date for Applications: August 31, 2017

Program Description: The Department of Labor is announcing the availability of up to $35 million for Dislocated Worker Opportunity Grants (DWOGs). Individual awards will be based on each applicant’s share of calendar year 2016 monthly averages of the Civilian Labor Force (CLF), as well as unemployment levels. A weighting of 50 percent will be assigned to both CLF and unemployment. The purpose of this funding is to enable eligible applicants to serve dislocated workers, who are unemployed and seeking reentry into the workforce, with career services and training which increases their skill levels to become competitive for growing or high-demand employment opportunities. These grants will be funded through the National Dislocated Worker Grant program. National Dislocated Worker Grants (DWGs) provide time-limited employment and training assistance to dislocated workers in response to major economic dislocations or other events that affect the U.S. workforce, and which cannot be accommodated with WIOA formula funds or other relevant existing resources. For the purpose of the DWOG solicitation, DOL has recognized the impact of ongoing smaller dislocation events over time as  a major dislocation event eligible for DWG assistance. The primary goals of the DWOGs are: (1) to expand opportunities for dislocated workers to upgrade skills that lead to employment or industry- recognized credentials in growing or high-demand industries and occupations; and (2) to address the  skill gaps faced by employers in growing or high-demand industries. In order to support an American economy that provides opportunity for all, worker skills must align with the needs of growing or high- demand industries. DWOGs will focus on job training that provides dislocated workers, who are unlikely to return to previous occupations, an opportunity to retool and re-engage in high-growth sectors of the economy.

Link to grants.gov: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=296055

Advancing Informal STEM Learning Agency: National Science Foundation
Estimated Total Program Funding: $44,000,000 Maximum Grant Award: $3,000,000
Closing Date for Applications: November 6, 2017

Program Description: NSF’s Advancing Informal STEM Learning (AISL) program seeks to advance new approaches to and evidence-based understanding of the design and development of STEM learning opportunities for the public in informal environments; provide multiple pathways for broadening access to and engagement in STEM learning experiences; advance innovative research on and assessment of STEM learning in informal environments; and engage the public of all ages in learning STEM in informal environments. AISL supports six types of projects: (1) Pilots and Feasibility Studies; (2) Research in Service to Practice; (3) Innovations in Development; (4) Broad Implementation; (5) Literature Reviews, Syntheses, or Meta-Analyses; and (6) Conferences.

Link to grants.gov: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=295308

Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) in Engineering and Computer Science Agency: National Science Foundation
Estimated Total Program Funding: $5,800,000 Closing Date for Applications: October 10, 2017

Program Description: NSF’s Research Experiences for Teachers (RET) in Engineering and Computer Science program supports collaborative partnerships between K-12 STEM in-service and pre-service teachers, full-time community college faculty, and university faculty and students to enhance the scientific disciplinary knowledge and capacity of the STEM teachers and/or community college faculty through participation in authentic summer research experiences with engineering and computer science faculty researchers. RET projects revolve around a focused research area related to engineering and/or computer science that will provide a common cohort experience to the participating educators. The K-12 STEM teachers and/or full-time community college faculty also translate their research experiences and new scientific knowledge into their classroom activities and curricula. Partnerships with inner city, rural or other high-need schools are encouraged, as is participation by underrepresented minorities, women, veterans, and persons with disabilities. As part of RET partnership arrangements, university undergraduate/graduate students will partner with pre-college/community college faculty in their classrooms during the academic year to support the integration of the RET curricular materials into classroom activities.

Link to grants.gov: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=295306