July, 2017

Equity As A Driver of Social Mobility

The community college system is one of California’s greatest public assets. Within the system’s expansive mission is the vision to use its programs and services towards efforts to help people – whether it’s helping them transfer, supporting a career transition, or even helping pave a path out of poverty. Social mobility, in essence, is a key goal of community colleges. But how do community colleges achieve the laudable goal of increasing social mobility? Our hypothesis: focus on equity.

Economic insecurity has become a defining issue of our time. The growing  gap between families at the top and bottom of the income distribution raises concerns about the ability of today’s disadvantaged groups to work their way up the economic ladder. California community colleges have an opportunity to improve the economic prospects of the students we serve by leveraging existing vehicles of investment such as the Student Equity Plans. Our system’s focus on access has enabled the promotion of equal educational opportunities for all. This is an important distinction and privilege unique to community colleges. Unlike other systems of higher education, community colleges are entrusted to provide a quality education to individuals from all walks of life.

Nonetheless, while the differences among our students can lead to an  enriching learning environment, the challenges are extensive and require investment and planning. Promoting increased social mobility requires reexamining a wide range of education policies. Equity plans have provided  an opportunity for the evaluation of these practices and a chance to improve outcomes for students disproportionately impacted relative to their peers.

Across the state, colleges have proven that through a focus on equity, our students can transform their economic circumstances. This is a key focus of Equity 2017: Elevating Equity for Social Mobility on September 8 in Ontario. Aiming to increase student success and retention amongst California’s underrepresented student populations, the summit will also feature presentations on state and system-wide issues and initiatives that enable social mobility through a focus on equity. The League, in partnership with the RP Group, will release a new report highlighting how three regions are using their Student Equity Plans to leverage community based resources that give needed support to community college students who would otherwise fail or dropout.

In a time of rising inequality and low social mobility, improving educational pathways has the potential to increase equality of opportunity for all Californians. Join the discussion at Equity 2017!

Key Bills Move Through the Legislature

Next week, the California Legislature will begin the summer recess. Upon returning, four weeks will remain in the 2017 legislative session. Many of the 108 bills tracked by the League have now become two-year bills, died in Appropriations, or have taken significant amendments. 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 1435 (Gonzalez Fletcher) The Athlete Protection Act

Would establish the Athlete Protection Commission, which would have the authority to regulate all collegiate athletic programs in the state. The Commission would be empowered to:

  1. Set safety standards for student athlete injuries.
  2. Require every college to set aside a specified amount of time for a student to study.
  3. Intestate practices of athletic programs with poor graduation rates.

Status: 2-Year Bill

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

Budget Makes Key Investment in Guided Pathways

Last month, almost two weeks after the Legislature approved the 2017-18 spending plan, Governor Brown signed a budget agreement that invests $270.2 million over the 2016 Budget Act level in community colleges. The budget recognizes the indispensable role community colleges play in closing achievement gaps, and in developing and strengthening California’s economy and civic capacity. This Budget Acts places attention on the long-term quality needs of community colleges, in addition to the growing funding liabilities, expected to be as high as $900 million annually by 2025, that impact daily college operations. Community colleges continue to be the state’s best economic development strategy, to confront inequality, and to enhance civic capacity particularly for California’s most underserved populations.

Proposition 98 Agreement:

Determination of Proposition 98 revenues was a key item in the negotiation process. The Legislature approved the following Proposition 98 package: $74.5 billion for 2017-18, $71.5 billion for 2016-17, and $69.1 billion for 2015-16.

Community College 2017-18 Budget:

The budget agreement provided several allocations in two key areas: instructional redesign and student supports, with a major one-time investment of $150 million in the Guided Pathways framework. It included one-time funding support to ensure Compton College’s successful transition to a stand-alone college. While the League advocated for funding for all 29 capital facilities projects, we appreciate that funding was included for six additional projects for a total of 15. The 2017-18 Budget Act also focused on need-based student aid by including $50 million in Proposition 98 financial aid targeted at students who enroll full-time.

To ensure colleges have essential information about the 2017-18 Budget for California Community Colleges, the League has made the following documents available on the Budget and Policy Center:

  • Chart with the full community college budget agreement.
  • Summary of Budget Trailer Bill items affecting community colleges.
  • 2017-18 Budget Summary PowerPoint.

For more information or questions about the 2017-18 approved budget, please contact Lizette Navarette at lizette@ccleague.org.

Federal Grant Opportunities

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

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

Service Area Competition
Agency: HHS/Health Resources and Services Administration
Estimated Total Program Funding: $337,100,000
Closing Date for Applications: August 21, 2017

Program Description: HRSA’s Health Center Program provides grant funding to support primary health care services to the nation’s medically underserved. The purpose of the Service Area Competition (SAC) is to ensure continued access to affordable, quality primary health care services for communities and vulnerable populations currently served by the Health Center Program.

Link to grants.gov: https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/view-opportunity.html?oppId=295212