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San Diego Lawmaker Wants State Community Colleges To Award 4-Year Degrees

December 18, 2013 1:43 p.m.

Guests

State Sen. Marty Block, (D-San Diego)

Constance M. Carroll, Chancellor, San Diego Community College District

Beth Smith, President, Academic Senate for California Community Colleges Professor of Mathematics, Grossmont College

Related Story: San Diego Lawmaker Wants State Community Colleges To Award 4-Year Degrees

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: This is KPBS Midday Edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. Just this week San Diego State University announced the number of applicants for next term is often all-time high. There's also been record breaking of the case numbers across the state. That the demand for four-year degrees continues to surge, the states community colleges want to get in on the act. The final report is being prepared by state committee colleges will recommend that many junior colleges be allowed to award four-year degrees in vocational majors like nursing and it information technology. Legislation alleging such a change is going to appear in the state legislature next year. I like to welcome Constance Carroll. Welcome to the. And joining me is Senator Marty Block. He plan to introduce this legislation in January, only actually give committee colleges go-ahead to do?

MARTY BLOCK: Empowered to them with the agreement of workforce and don't develop many agencies and with the agreement of CSU to allow bachelor degrees were local CSU do not have the capacity to meet the need.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What is legislature have to approve this change?

MARTY BLOCK: We do not have the power, the master plan of higher education from 1960, committee of the colleges are only empowered to offer associate degrees or transfers to CSU or adult education. Their capable of much more.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Chancellor Carroll, this was a four-year degree when I go to a traditional college and in a four-year degree?

CONSTANCE M. CARROLL: In many cases the degree to not exist, for example in fields involving allied health like health information technology and there are no four-year colleges in California that offer that degree. Radiologic technology which is a growing field, there is only one campus of Cal State University that offers the degree, and impacted fields like nursing, the demand is so huge that there is no capacity for the California State University to expand, so the combination of not having accessible degrees or not having room and programs is a compelling reason for which California's community colleges are taking a hard look at that.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: To you and I will be thinking about offering degrees that are offered elsewhere, but expanding things that are going up to associate degrees making them into four-year degree programs?

CONSTANCE M. CARROLL: Yes. The world of education and work has changed. Used to be the case that some fields and distant disciplines that hard edges around the bend crumbled and culminated at the associate degree, we find that now hospitals and other organizations are looking for baccalaureate personnel. It only makes sense for community colleges to make an address to this issue. These all have a workforce purpose and the goal is to add to the existing ability to address workforce needs.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Wondering do you think this is a degrees become obsolete?

CONSTANCE M. CARROLL: No. There are twenty-two states in America that currently enable community colleges to offer baccalaureate to degrees, but they are few and far between and they are aimed at specific issues workforce automation. That I mentioned. There are other fields such as automotive technology and administrative justice and feels that it migrated themselves to the baccalaureate level. Great majority of programs are still working well at the associate degree level.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: During the budget crisis, user we went through budgets incredibly tight, committee colleges saw a major reduction in funding and the cut classes and enrollment dropped because of that, at community colleges we bound to come back?

MARTY BLOCK: They are still rebounding. We are looking for the first time in the last year at adding classes and adding faculty, restoring programs that had cut by adding baccalaureate programs we are helping the committee, committee colleges come back up. I do not think it is one way or the other, is a get back to where they were they can expand at the same time. We have a crisis right now with the affordable for carrot coming on, we will not have enough practitioners in the allied health fields and nursing to really treat properly the patients that will be out there. In San Diego, we have many well-trained to your nurses trained by city colleges, but they cannot get into four-year programs because there's not the capacity. San Diego state has a great program but it has been full for years. This will allow to your nurses to receive a bachelors of science and got the nursing and go up and meet the workforce need.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What this cost more for the community colleges to start offering these programs?

CONSTANCE M. CARROLL: There would be a modest startup cost but the students would pay the tuition weight that is at the baccalaureate level, rather than paying at the lower-level estate would compensate the colleges at the baccalaureate level. The experience in Florida and the state of Washington is that these programs breakeven after a few years. There is initial cost because costs are easily retire to what they want.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Let me welcome Beth Smith.

BETH SMITH: I'm happy to be here with other colleagues who care about education.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: You're among those exploring the four-year degree program at committee colleges, how does the panel feel about this?

BETH SMITH: I'm personally was not there but we have representatives on the panel to discuss the occasions of change to our mission and what for students and financial aid and the full range of concern, that any study would bring to light. The faculty at this point have not seen a report, so there is no position officially for us regarding this new proposal.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: What are your main concerns?

BETH SMITH: By main concerns are that we investigate the idea thoroughly. They have looked at some critical elements of how this change and the opportunities that occur, such as accreditation of the program, think there's an interest in having all five available for some people can review it and help them make decisions. I think there also some interest that faculty and out come the person CSU and you receive you see to talk this through. There is reduced availability and capacity is really an issue, it seems like that is a different issue to be resolved possibly to legislature, that is the in availability of some programs and students now need to get jobs that are available.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: To your seeing two different sides of this, for your different degree programs are offered by and if their programs are too limited, and maybe they can look to expand as programs, and yet there's another portion of this that may actually make offerings of two-year degree programs into four-year degree programs that community colleges. I'm wondering, you see this bifurcation and this idea of two documents to ideas at the same time, do you think that committee colleges are right now currently beating their mission?

BETH SMITH: That is a great question and I would agree to the state senator that we are doing the best job that we can give the resources that have been allocated to us, and as we come out of this recession, and the awful cuts that we have made to classes and services to students, we are just beginning to get her feet under us and see where we will go in the future, we are also being challenged by legislature to look out adult education programs and that end of our mission. There is also some discussion about expanding our mission to reach out in the greater way to high schools should could benefit from starting college programs earlier and clear options, it while this conversation is focused only on one end of the community college question, or one potential change, there are other views and machinery in motion to address other aspects of our mission. I think for the faculty perspective we want an opportunity to see how all of that plays out together. We want to serve our communities the best way possible.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Considering what Beth just said, I'm wondering do you see that perhaps the community colleges try to expand into many directions at the same time? What you think this is doable?

CONSTANCE M. CARROLL: Definitely doable. This is part of this process and will be part of the planning process, but right now if you take a look at one of California's institutes, we're offering 4 to 5 of the middle to college high schools. We're the only committee college district offers high school diploma and GED through our own noncredit adult education teaching education program, and we are known for our innovative work. These missions are something well supported. Our district would be one of the ones in the lead to be able to make this other transition very quickly without too much difficulty so each of the seventy-two community college districts at that level of development, and this particular district is really ready and able and enthusiastic about taking the lead.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Senator Block, this is not a new idea in the number of pills the U of introduced in the state legislature that would allow committee colleges to offer four-year degrees, they have not actually cut interest yet, what is different this time around?

MARTY BLOCK: See to what I first got the legislature we had a $42 billion deficit deficit California. With different, I introduced the bill in the past because it is important idea, and I think we need to meet the workforce needs and I think students need to have access to education, but the first couple of times we released the bill that was not the budget to support it. This year we have a surplus. I will hopefully be up to get funding for these programs. I think this time it will be different and the momentum is there. I think this time we see the section come to fruition.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: Doctor Carroll, it's not ideal for a new idea in the sense that there are several other states who are implementing that, their community colleges offer programs for four-year degrees, I'm wondering how that is working out.

CONSTANCE M. CARROLL: They're working out very well. They're looking at this idea for California there are twenty-two states and over fifty community colleges across the states which already offer these programs. There is a report last year issued for Florida has a wonderful program in nursing and other fields. We do not need to reinvent the wheel, and they also can learn from mistakes of others can capitalize on the beneficial types of program's formats Institute. I do want to add that this is about jobs. The top goal of community colleges is to prepare people for workforce. The workforce is beginning to expand again, but in different ways and some of those ways acquire baccalaureate degrees. Community colleges are well positioned to take the lead in meeting that demand. It's about jobs and putting people to work? That is one of the reasons we are so in this he asked about this.

MAUREEN CAVANAUGH: I've been speaking with Carroll Chancellor and California Senator Marty Block.