Realizing the What and Determining the How

ASCCC President

The California Community Colleges system, or rather the California community colleges, is implementing or anticipating implementing changes in regard to curriculum such as curricular offerings, general education, major study preparation, associate degree opportunities, baccalaureate degree opportunities, transfer pathways, and teaching and learning technology. All of these areas are academic and professional matters, and thus local academic senates, as well as the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, have the right and responsibility to provide recommendations to local boards of trustees and the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, respectively, on policy development and implementation matters in these areas [1].

As debate regarding legislation and other initiatives took place, practitioners and stakeholders generally agreed on the “what” but had many divergent ideas and sometimes contradictory solutions for the “how.” The what generally consisted of providing full access to educational opportunities and support services to ensure that all students, especially those that have been disproportionately impacted, could realize their educational and career aspirations. High-level portions of the how have been determined by well-intended yet limited and prescriptive legislation, regulations, and guidance. Multiple taskforces, workgroups, and advisory committees have been formed with consultants, practitioners, and representatives from organizations outside the California Community Colleges system to recommend and design the details of the how. While much of the how has fueled robust discussion and productive debate, some misinformation has also circulated regarding the requirements for and consequences of implementation.

When practitioners are arguing among themselves and pointing fingers on the how, outside voices and policy makers can use that diversion as an open door to create more unwanted and potentially misguided policies. Faculty must now open their eyes, pull together, and unite with system practitioner groups to collaborate in creating student-centered solutions for realizing the what and determining the how. Academic senates, working with their collective bargaining agents, administrative colleagues, classified professional staff, and students, must examine the opportunities and challenges, anticipate the unintended consequences, and design solutions with a student-centered focus that provides flexible and multiple options how to truly meet the needs of the students in the California Community Colleges system, which has the most diverse student population in the world.


General Education

Implementation of AB 928 (Berman, 2021) [2] is well underway, and faculty have much work to do. After broad vetting by the Academic Senates of the University of California (UC), California State University (CSU), and California Community Colleges (CCCs), the Intersegmental Committee of Academic Senates (ICAS) acted to establish the California General Education Transfer Curriculum (Cal-GETC) framework on February 1, 2023. Concerns regarding the impacts on oral communication, lifelong learning and self-development, and language other than English were shared during the months-long vetting processes. Because of the faculty voice, several elements were addressed. Oral communication was included in Cal-GETC provided that the California community colleges made some adjustments with course prerequisites. ICAS acknowledged the value of lifelong learning and self-development courses for community college students and is examining ways to include lifelong learning and self-development courses within other areas and majors. Furthermore, the CCCs continue to advocate for the CSU to make lifelong learning and self-development a graduation requirement instead of an upper division GE requirement. Finally, the UC included language other than English as a graduation requirement as opposed to an entrance requirement.

With the recent addition of the Ethnic Studies area, the unit limitation set by AB 928 requiring a minimum of 34 semester units, and the limitations of what the UC accepts for general education, some opportunities that were included in CSU GE Breadth’s 39 units could not be included in Cal-GETC. While Cal-GETC will be the only general education pathway that determines transfer eligibility to both the CSU and the UC by the 2025-26 academic year, at this time both university systems still have their own GE patterns for their students. Furthermore, the CCCs are in the process of restructuring associate and baccalaureate degree GE requirements so that they align with Cal-GETC yet are not identical.

Critical issues needing strong faculty, student, and practitioner voices for guidance and recommendations based on in-depth analyses include the following:

  • Must courses approved for Cal-GETC be articulated to both the CSU and the UC?
  • What happens to the courses that students currently use for CSU GE Breadth that do not meet the requirements of IGETC or Cal-GETC? Will community college students still be able to take those courses to transfer to the CSU?
  • Will lifelong learning and self-development be an area included in the CCC lower division general education requirements?

Common Course Numbering

AB 1111 (Berman, 2021) [3] is the fourth bill since 1983 requiring common course numbering in the California community colleges. The AB 1111: Common Course Numbering Task Force [4] (CCN Task Force) has broad representation from within the CCCs as well as representation from the other California higher education systems. At this time, the task force has reached no decisions and made no recommendations. The CCN Task Force is in a learning phase in order to formulate recommendations for workgroups and implementation. The legislation requires all community colleges to adopt a student-facing common course numbering system for all general education and transfer pathway courses by July 1, 2024. Faculty and other practitioners systemwide will be called upon to participate in workgroups to address areas such as the following:

  • Numbering schema
  • Curriculum requirements for approval of common course number designation
  • Technology needs
  • Articulation processes
  • Role of C-ID

Academic Freedom

Academic freedom is essential for both faculty and students in order to achieve effective teaching and learning. It protects the rights of faculty and students to engage in discourse that is inclusive of diverse perspectives within and across disciplines on subject matter appropriate to a course. Currently, academic freedom is under threat across the nation. Recent proposed legislation in Florida, SB 999 (2023) [5], if passed would prohibit education on belief systems in critical race theory, gender studies, and intersectionality. In Texas, proposed HB 1006 (2023) [6] is a bill on academic freedom that would also prohibit colleges to fund, promote, sponsor, or support diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts except those that are necessary under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

However, last year in California, Senate Resolution 45 (2022, Min) [7] was passed by the Senate and advocates for full academic freedom. The Senate resolved that “under an academic freedom policy, a faculty member can, within their discipline, articulate or even advocate positions or concepts that may be controversial in nature without fear of retribution or reprisal by the institution” and “academic freedom is an essential requisite for teaching and learning in California Community Colleges.” The ASCCC, ICAS, and the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC) continue to advocate to the California Legislature for the full protection of academic freedom. Including such protections in statute would ensure faculty and students have the right to express themselves freely and engage in discourse as appropriate to the context of a course, reducing and hopefully eliminating restrictions and fear of retribution.


The time is now to move from pointing fingers to opening hands so that faculty can embrace their collective voice. Faculty and colleges must create solutions that meet students where they are, not where others think they should be. From streamlining and simplifying transfer to organizing and presenting curriculum, and then ensuring the protection of academic freedom for faculty and students, faculty voices need to come together. Faculty are stronger when they combine their efforts and their voice for the benefit of all.

1. Academic and professional matters under the purview of academic senates are defined in Title 5 § 53200, available at The role of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges is established through Title 5 § 53206, available at, and through the Procedures and Standing Orders of the Board of Governors, section 332, page 42, available at
2. Full text of AB 928 (Berman, 2021) is available at
3. Full text of AB 1111 (Berman, 2021) is available at
4. The AB 1111: Common Course Numbering Task Force website can be accessed at
5. The full text of Florida SB 999 (2023) is available at
6 The full text of Texas HB 1006 (2023) is available at
7 The full text of SR 45 (Min, 2022) is available at