Dan Walters

Dan Walters

By Dan Walters
dwalters@sacbee.com
Published: Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 – 12:00 am
Last Modified: Friday, Oct. 25, 2013 – 6:18 am

The faculties and administrators of California’s public institutions of higher learning often display a certain disdain for the real world.

Those in the cloisters of academe imply that students, their families – and taxpayers – should simply pony up whatever they say they need to operate, without considering competing public and private demands on limited resources.

Call it elitism, reality denial or whatever, but it’s there. And it explains why the state’s collegiate establishment, including academic unions, opposed two pieces of legislation aimed at imposing some reality on their operations.

The Legislature, to its credit, ignored the opposition and passed both measures, and Gov. Jerry Brown, to his credit, signed both.

One, Senate Bill 440, pushes the state university system to make transfers of community college students easier, as the 53-year-old Master Plan for Higher Education envisioned.

Its author, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Los Angeles, had tried in the past to streamline transfers, but ran into powerful opposition from turf-protecting academics.

As the Legislature’s budget analyst, Mac Taylor, has observed, “CCC students often must navigate a complex maze of transfer course requirements, which can make accessing and completing a baccalaureate program difficult.”

SB 440 places pressure on community college and state university officials to reconcile their offerings.

Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, authored the second bill, Assembly Bill 955, to create a pilot program for local community colleges – during lulls in the academic year – to offer certain courses with fees high enough to cover their costs. The aim is allowing students to complete highly congested courses they need to pursue their careers or transfers to a four-year degree program.

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