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On Education: A practical vision of college success

September 27, 2012|By Megan O'Neil

Finally, someone is making cents out of education.

State Sen. Carol Liu, up for reelection in November in the newly configured 25th District, was at Glendale Community College on Monday to lay out the tenets of the Student Success Act of 2012.

The legislation, which Liu helped write and Gov. Jerry Brown has until Sunday to sign into law, strives to make community colleges more productive by augmenting critical services and prioritizing enrollees with clear education goals and performance records.

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“What do I want? I want more kids coming of the system getting bachelor's degrees or technical certificates, and I want them into jobs,” Liu said. “I want them working for themselves, and I want them working for the rest of us.”

Specifically, under the Student Success Act, colleges would provide student services including, but not limited to, orientation, assessment and placement, counseling, education planning and academic intervention. They would also assess the effectiveness of services by collecting data on ethnicity, age gender, disability and socioeconomic status.

In addition, students would be required to identify an education goal, such as a degree or technical certificate, and to develop an appropriate course of study. If students desire to continue to qualify for enrollment fee waivers, they will have to demonstrate progress. The changes would be phased in over a couple of years.

Space in Glendale Community College classrooms is at a premium this fall. Multimillion-dollar budget cuts mean accommodating 13,600 students, down from 20,056 three years ago. It is a scenario mirrored at the other 111 community colleges statewide.

Also at stake is California's economic future, Liu argued. She cited a 2009 report published by the Public Policy Institute of California that states that by 2025, the state will be 1 million college graduates short of what it needs to compete in the global economy.

“If we don't build California, there are lots of people out there around the world who would like to take our place,” Liu said. “We need to make these investments. We need to be more mindful of how we spend our dollars. These kids need to succeed.”

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