A higher education report released this month by the Public Policy Institute of California spells out a potential crisis for the state’s economy.

“Unfortunately, California’s higher education system is not keeping up with the economy’s changing needs. If current trends continue, California will face a large skills gap by 2030 — it will be 1.1 million workers with bachelor’s degrees short of economic demand,” the report states.

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, introduced legislation, SB 769, aimed at enabling more students to get four-year degrees by extending a pilot program five years beyond its 2023 expiration date. This program allows some community colleges to grant four-year degrees in fields not offered by the UC and California State University systems.

“In 2015, 15 bachelor’s degree pilot programs were approved, offering some community colleges students the opportunity to earn four-year degrees in applied fields such as dental hygiene, respiratory care, and mortuary science,” the PPIC report pointed out.

Despite support for SB 769 from such high-profile educators as Fresno City College President Carole Goldsmith and Constance Carroll, chancellor of San Diego’s community college system, the bill died in the Assembly after breezing through the Senate.

Why did the bill get sidetracked?

“Continued union opposition was certainly a factor, as was a report from the UC-Davis Wheelhouse Center for Community College Leadership and Research, which complained that the current program doesn’t do enough for Latino and black students,” writes Dan Walters of CALmatters in his Sept. 13 column.

You can read Walters’ column (“Blocking new role for community colleges short-sighted”) here.




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