California Community Colleges
In a quarterly teleconference with California Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley Sep. 25, spoke to student journalists about spring 2021 plans, Election Day, Proposition 16, the current political climate of the country, and financial deficits.
With Election Day Nov. 3 this year, the chancellor placed emphasis on voting, and called it a critical day, not just in terms of presidential elections, but also for some other critical issues on ballots. He also expressed his support for Proposition 16.
Proposition 16 brings back affirmative action to California, allowing race, ethnicity and gender to once again be considered in admissions to state colleges and universities, state contracts, and public jobs.
“I’m just here to make sure that you all are aware of the importance Proposition 16 (holds) to our future as our student body continues to be diverse, we want to ensure that we can do everything possible to support every student from every background, and ensure that the faculty and the staff that you visit with, that you see in the classroom, that you learn from, represent the diversity that you bring to the classroom,” Oakley said.
California community colleges, along with many other colleges across the country, have seen sharp declines in enrollment. Chancellor Oakley mentioned that summer enrollments in California community colleges saw a slight increase, whereas for the fall semester, things have been much “softer” than what had been hoped for, while colleges struggle to make sure students stay enrolled.
“While the gap continues to close, every week that we’re open, we’re seeing around a 5-7% decline so far,” Oakley said. “Now, as many of you know, many of your colleges have late starting classes, eight-week sections — lots of ways that we’re trying to reach students.”
With declining enrollments, colleges won’t be affected, which means that even with declining enrollments, they will be provided the same resources.
A lot of community colleges in California have cut down on courses due to COVID-19 restrictions, including courses that are mandatory for graduation — and students, staff, and faculty all over the state have shown concern about it.
“My office has gone through a series of emergency orders to make it easier for colleges to offer courses online to give them flexibility in grading, as well as ensure that they don’t lose any funding if they have any challenges with enrollment, so that they can continue to offer the classes that are needed,” Oakley said. “Having said all that, it still has been difficult for some colleges, and particularly for some programs, to design their courses in a way that allows students to get the education they need to meet certain certification requirements.”
California Community Colleges are working directly with the State of California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST).
“Every college that provides that kind of instruction establishes a process to look at the training to reform the training to reflect the needs of their community, and to ensure that we’re talking … whether it’s sensitivity training, cultural competency, whatever that might be,” Oakley said. “We are in constant dialogue with (POST) about how we reform police training in order to deal with the various issues that have come up recently from use of force.”