Legislation for 2021: Full Steam Ahead
2020 was the second year of a two-year legislative cycle. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislature slowed the legislation train down, limited the bills to be heard, and prioritized those that absolutely must pass in that year, were directly related to COVID-19, alleviated homelessness, were related to wildfire preparedness, or were a response to PG&E bankruptcy. In 2019, 2,625 bills were introduced to legislature, 1,042 made it to the governor’s desk, and 870 became law. In 2020, those numbers were 2,390, 513, and 457, respectively. The legislature indicated that the number of bills in 2021 would also be reduced and focused similarly as in 2020. However, as of the closing day to introduce bills, February 19, the legislature was moving full steam ahead: 1,564 assembly bills and 815 senate bills had been introduced. That is a total of 2,379 bills for 2021. A number of bills that may potentially impact the California Community Colleges system, especially regarding academic and professional matters under the purview of academic senates, have been reintroduced or are expected.
AB 417 (McCarty, 2021),  the Rising Scholars Network, reintroduces AB 2341 (McCarty, 2020). After passing out of the Assembly, AB 2341 died in the Senate, as did many of the bills in 2020. This bill would authorize the Chancellor’s Office to establish a program, named the Rising Scholars Network, to enter into agreements with up to fifty community colleges to provide additional funds for services in support of justice-involved—current or formerly incarcerated—students. The ASCCC has long supported providing educational opportunities and services to current and formerly incarcerated students as demonstrated by resolutions F19 3.06, S17 5.01, S17 7.02, S17 17.02  as well as numerous Rostrum articles and presentations at ASCCC events.
AB 421 (Ward, 2021) would equalize noncredit career development college preparation (CDCP) funding to credit course funding by requiring the accounting of students enrolled in CDCP courses to be conducted by positive attendance count or by census basis. In addition, it would alter the definition of qualifying courses to a “complement of courses” instead of a “sequence of courses.” This bill reintroduces AB 1727 (Weber, 2019) that was vetoed by the governor due to a likely substantial increase in cost. Although the ASCCC did not take an official position on AB 1727, positions of support to equalize noncredit funding with that of credit are found in resolutions F20 13.02, S19 9.02, F18 9.02, the Rostrum article “Changes Ahead for Noncredit” (Rutan, 2019), and the paper Noncredit Instruction: Opportunity and Challenge (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, 2019).
AB 940 (McCarty, 2021) reintroduces AB 2017 (McCarty, 2016). AB 940 would reallocate existing funds to be used for increasing campus student mental health services and mental health-related education and training. Although interest and support existed in 2016, the issue is much more urgent now, especially due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting impact to students. The ASCCC took a position of support (Morse, 2016) for AB 2017.
BILLS INTENDED TO IMPROVE EXISTING LEGISLATION
AB 927 (Medina, 2021) and AB 1115 (Choi, 2021) are two bills proposing amendments to the community colleges baccalaureate degree pilot program that resulted from the passage of SB 850 (Block, 2014). While AB 1115 would only extend the sunset date of the pilot program by one year until July 1, 2027, AB 927 would remove the pilot designation, permit more than the current fifteen colleges to participate in the program, and permit districts to offer multiple programs. Colleges would still be required to provide documentation regarding unmet workforce needs and would still not be allowed to duplicate programs that exist in the California State University or University of California systems. The ASCCC passed resolution F19 6.01 that reversed the ASCCC’s prior position of opposition to the baccalaureate program and urged the removal of the pilot designation. In addition, Resolution F19 6.02 supported the expansion of the baccalaureate program in disciplines and communities that best serve students and prioritized the expansion of baccalaureate programs in allied health fields.
AB 928 (Berman, 2021), a bill on transfer from the California Community Colleges to the California State University or University of California, purports to streamline transfer processes and increase the number of students that receive associate degrees before transfer.
As of March 16, 2021, this legislation was still what is often referred to as a spot bill, which are bills that are submitted with minimal language while the author continues conferring with sponsors and possibly other stakeholders in creating the bill language. Currently, expected language for the bill would seek to create a single transfer pathway to both the CSU and UC systems. The bill is also expected to require the automatic placement of community college students into an associate degree for transfer (ADT) pathway, which students would then have to opt-out of if they prefer a different pathway that better meets their educational goals. The ASCCC has done extensive work to create, simplify, and align transfer pathways for students. Forty Transfer Model Curricula and twenty University of California Transfer Pathways have now been finalized for colleges to use in designing their ADTs and local associate degrees. However, while attempts to align both CSU and UC requirements into single pathways have been successful in some cases, they may not be feasible in others due to the excess units required of students to meet the degree outcomes and objectives for both systems. In addition, auto-placing students into transfer pathways could limit students’ options to pursue transfer to the UC system and prove problematic in other ways. The ASCCC will continue to monitor this bill.
AB 1040 (Muratsuchi, 2021) is part of a recent suite of bills [AB 1460 (Weber, 2019), AB 310 (Medina, 2019), AB 3310 (Muratsuchi, 2020), AB 101 (Medina, 2021)] with the goal of ensuring that students in California public institutions take an ethnic studies course as a required component of their education. While this bill could be viewed as a reintroduction of AB 3310, it has some fairly substantial differences and would require only those students pursing an associate degree for transfer to take an ethnic studies course. The ASCCC has a long history of supporting ethnic studies education in the curriculum through numerous resolutions and Rostrum articles dating back as far as 1988. F88 5.04 directed the Executive Committee to pursue strategies to develop ethnic studies as a component of the associate degree, and F98 3.06 reaffirmed the ASCCC support of an ethnic studies graduation requirement. In 2008 and 2009, more resolutions directed examination of and resources for how colleges were meeting the requirements, and in fall 2020 two additional resolutions, F20 9.03 and F20 9.04, were passed to clarify and strengthen the ethnic studies requirement in Title 5. In early fall 2020, the California Community Colleges Curriculum Committee proposed language to codify the requirement in Title 5 Regulations §55063. For more information on ethnic studies education and how it has evolved over the years, see the Rostrum articles “Ethnic Studies Requirement: Understanding It and Fulfilling It” (Morse & Watkins, 2010) and “Ethnic Studies: Looking Back; Looking Forward” (Beach, et.al, 2021).
AB 1456 (Medina, 2021), the Cal Grant Reform Act, has been a long time coming. This bill aims to overhaul Cal Grants and provide financial aid to community college students that will cover the full cost of college. The ASCCC actively supports the expansion of financial aid for all students in the state as evidenced in the ASCCC President’s January 14, 2019 Letter to Vice-Chancellor Laura Metune (Stanskas, 2019) and through resolution S16 6.01.
Those interested in more information on legislation that the ASCCC is following can to go to agenda item IV.A in any Executive Committee meeting agenda, which can be found at asccc.org.
Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (2019). Noncredit Instruction: Opportunity and Challenge. https://www.asccc.org/sites/default/files/Noncredit_Instruction.pdf.
Beach, R, Bean, M, & Vélez, M. (2021, February). Ethnic Studies: Looking Back; Looking Forward. The Rostrum. Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. https://www.asccc.org/content/ethnic-studies-looking-back-looking-forward
Morse, D. (2016, April 26). Support AB 2017 (McCarty, as of 04/07/16) College Mental Health Services Program. https://www.asccc.org/sites/default/files/AB%202017%20Support.pdf.
Morse, D. & Watkins, P. (2010, January). Ethnic Studies Requirement: Understanding It and Fulfilling It. The Rostrum. Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. https://www.asccc.org/content/ethnic-studies-requirement-understanding-i...
Rutan, C. (2019, April). Changes Ahead for Noncredit? The Rostrum. Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. https://www.asccc.org/content/changes-ahead-noncredit.
Stanskas, J. (2019, January 14). Support on Expansion of Cal Grants. Letter to Vice-Chancellor Metune. https://www.asccc.org/sites/default/files/Cal%20Grant%20Letter%20of%20Su...
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