by Ariel Carmona Jr.
According to information released by the chancellor's office last week,
students planning to finish school will likely be allowed to register
before others at California's 112 community colleges.
The San Jose Mercury News reported
that a plan to give enrollment priority to students who have completed
an orientation, taken English or Math skills tests, or filled out a plan
for completing college has won preliminary approval.
community college state board is expected to vote on the proposal in
September, and the new rules would take effect in 2014, but under these
new rules, colleges would penalize students who have completed far more
units than they need to transfer to a four-year school.
not immediately clear how many of the state's 2.7 million or so students
complete an educational plan, and it's also unknown at this time how
educators who are grappling with an ongoing budget crunch, which has
already slashed thousands of classes, can figure out how to help
students plan their educational paths.
The Daily Democrat newspaper
reports Paul Feist, in the California Community College's Chancellor's
Office said the board also gave final approval to new regulations
preventing students from repeating classes they have already passed.
news also reported that active-duty military, veterans and former
foster children will still have priority standing. They will be followed
by students who have completed education plans, are in good academic
standing, and have fewer than 100 credits.
On the face of it, the
proposed changes are good, theoretically getting rid of the
professional student in favor of those who have clear ideas and are on
track to graduate and join the professional ranks.
inspection, these are proposed regulations which bring up more questions
than they answer and which appear to be contrary to the traditional
mission of community colleges: To give students another viable
educational option, other than more expensive state schools and private
For example: will the new regulations exempt students
retroactively, those who have amassed a great number of units sampling
various career options, or will it punish them right away by not
allowing them to register into classes?
And what of a program
such as a school's journalism program? At Mt. SAC for example, we relied
on student editors repeating classes for practice because it was
impossible them to learn their craft in one semester's time. These new
regulation fail to address specialized programs like a school newspaper,
which are very important to the campus community and the individual
There are many other activity, non-academic courses
which require several semesters to achieve proficiency, but these new
regulations would prevent students from repeating "activity" courses,
such as art or music, starting in Fall 2013.
In the end, if the
regulations work out similar to the U.S. government practice of making
federal mandates, and then giving states the autonomy to implement and
interpret their own laws, at least in theory, state colleges would have
the same ability to regulate their curriculums to fit the system's
requirements. Yet, this seems a messier process, and it could be an
expensive one, if counseling departments, some already affected by
budget cuts, have to beef up their manpower to help current and future
generation of students.
It will be a "wait and see" game for
those who are choosing community college as their primary educational
institution, but one thing seems clear, if law makers get their way, the
days of repeating courses and sampling various educational tracks are