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Lawmaker Proposes Expanding Mission Of Community Colleges

— San Diego Assemblyman Marty Block wants community colleges to begin offering four-year degrees. He says California has to rethink the way students access higher education.

Block is in the process of drafting a bill that would allow a select number of community colleges to award bachelor's degrees in certain subject areas.

Community colleges only offer two-year associate degrees and certificates in California.

But Block says deep budget cuts are causing four-year schools to shut out tens of thousands of students. He says expanding the community colleges' mission means more students would complete their four-degrees.

“For a student to be able to continue his or her education for two more years at the same comfortable community college location where they've done their first two years, I think we'd see a tremendous increase in those who would successfully complete the bachelor's degree,” Block says.

His idea is to start small, testing the concept at a select number of community colleges and in a certain number of subject areas. San Diego could be included in the pilot program.

“We need to be as cost effective as possible and the most cost-effective solution is shifting some money out of the CSU and giving more money to the community colleges so they can prepare twice as many students for the dollar. It’s a bigger bang for the taxpayer buck,” Block says.

Community college officials say the change would represent a major shift in higher education policy. Block says 17 states now allow their community college systems to offer bachelor degrees from nursing to electrical engineering.

Audio

Aired 12/22/09

San Diego Assemblyman Marty Block wants community colleges to begin offering four-year degrees. He says California has to rethink the way students access higher education.

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