Student Success Task Force plans drastic changes to community college education

Task force plans major revisions they believe will benefit students

by Christopher Livingston
Production Manager

(Sofie Casassa/The Chaparral)

On Jan. 9 2012, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors approved the recommendations laid out by the Student Success Task Force, which, according to its press release, “is aimed at rebalancing priorities to focus on the core missions of remedial education, workforce preparation, certificate and degree attainment and transfer.” What this means is that in coming years, the Student Success Task Force will organize the California Community College structure in a way which reflects their definition of academic success.

The task force made 22 recommendations to the Board of Governors as ways for community colleges to attempt to facilitate student enrollment. These recommendations involve altering different sectors of student enrollment, such as standardizing the skill assessments in all California community colleges, expansion of counseling and solidifying the educational plans of students.

The task force was born out of Senate Bill 1143, which “require[s] the board to adopt a plan for promoting and improving student success within the California Community Colleges and to establish a taskforce to examine specified best practices and models for accomplishing student success.”

However, the task force hasn’t been embraced by various student communities. An online petition was created to reverse the aforementioned recommendations, saying that the standardizing nature would “limit the definition of success, ignoring the many ways that community colleges contribute to the success of a very diverse population, threatening ESL, opportunities for older students and other ‘non-degree’ programs.”

With a deteriorating budget and rising tuition costs, an important goal at College of the Desert is to find a way to efficiently handle the combination of budget constraints and higher student enrollment.

While it may seem odd that the budget is causing so much strain at a time when infrastructural improvements are being made, these improvements have been in the works for eight years, according to Dean of Student Support Programs and Services Adrian Gonzales. These plans were approved by voters as part of Measure B in 2004, a period when education was much more accessible at the community college level. In 2004, the main issue was aging buildings. Hence, it was felt to be a necessity to renovate each building,  providing a modern, more accessible campus to prospective COD students.

In recent times, however, the projects have been continuing at a slow, yet steady pace. There is a strict timeline for these various projects and it was agreed in 2004 that the projects were to be completed by 2016. This is evident from the bond timeline (accessible through the College of the Desert homepage), where it states that “all other projects [are] to be completed” by the end of 2015. This, of course, depends on the timing of actions such as hiring contractors and developing architectural plans. Nevertheless, it is a project that continues to move forward despite emotionally-charged issues concerning money.

The Student Success Task Force solution calls for a change in the overall campus. Perhaps, a change in the flow of how students are educated.

“We cannot predict when the economy will rebound and we can serve all students again, but we can predict that we will continue to rank near the bottom in terms of getting students out,” said Yassmin Delahoussaye, a Task Force member and Vice Chancellor in the Los Angeles Community College District.

California Community Colleges Counselor Jack Scott is in favor of the task force recommendations, highlighting that they would serve the intended dual purpose of facilitating student life, while also lowering costs.

In March 2012, the final report of recommendations will be presented to the state legislature for review.

Leave a Reply