To: California Community Colleges Board of Governors, The California State House, and Governor Gavin Newsom
Don't kick Grandma out of pottery class!
Reverse the non-repeatability ruling for taking classes at California Community Colleges. The ruling limits the number of times a learner can take a class.
Why is this important?
There is a devastating assault on lifelong learning that not only prevents professionals from staying up-to-date in their field, at a pace that does not interfere with job constraints, it also has caused unnecessary distress in the lives of thousands of low-income seniors for whom engaging with others in a class in the arts—painting, drawing, pottery, writing, dance, or aerobics or other physical disciplines has always been a source of fulfillment. Depriving citizens of the right to learn, also deprives younger students from learning to live active and constructive lives, and the value of learning from others' life experiences. Studies affirm that active seniors live longer, more fulfilling lives, and community colleges have always been a part of that. Learning is not an assembly line experience.
Low-income people must have an education to advance; yet the cost of higher education leaves too many families without the financial means. Nor can they afford the investment in time as a full-time student, often because they must work to survive, or family situations require that they care for children, elderly relatives, or both. This is the devastating cycle of poverty that only accessible, flexible, low-cost education can resolve. San Francisco City College has been there for 70 years to fill that need—until now.
Since the 'repeatability' regulation took effect, City College enrollment is down 23%. While the accreditation threat has contributed to the problem, the repeatability rule has exacerbated the enrollment losses.
It is a fact that some students need to repeat courses to practice and develop skills. Passing a class with a C grade hardly represents mastery of a subject. Individuals learn in different ways; some students simply need more time to develop proficiency; some learn with more repetition, or more applied experiences, increasing tech skills, literacy, and comprehension.
California citizens pay taxes to support community colleges, and we want the colleges to offer freedom for every kind of student and learning community. Re-establish repeatability for performance courses, theater and dance, and in painting, drawing, and music, as well as physical education classes like aerobics, tai chi, yoga, and all classes where the benefit from continued practice is a known factor.
Courses should be open to repeating; lifelong learning should always be available. It really does take a village! For high school students and GED students who dream of going to college, City College must always remain a great place to start a career! If you or your child has special education needs, City College must be here for you! If you need workforce specialization and training towards certification, City College must be here for you! If you are an artist who wants to meet, and work, and share with other artists, City College must be here for you! Veterans - City College must be here for you. Incarcerated prisoners who want to turn their lives around must have a pathway for learning through City College.
California’s Community College Chancellor, Jack Scott, said “it used to be that we could be all things to all people. Those days are gone, and now we have to focus on those with the greatest need.” This intractable orientation abandons too many people in real need, in favor of corporate attitudes about who needs and uses community colleges, without assessing the needs of diverse communities.
I take this personally; my career started at City College of San Francisco. Spread the word! Encourage everyone to take a class—who knows, it could change your life! I know—it did for me.
Dr. Anita Grier, Trustee, City College of San Francisco
Great Careers Begin at City College!