2023 February Rostrum
2023 February Rostrum
Championing Student Success and Access Over the Last 25+ Years
Faculty in the California Community Colleges (CCC) system should be recognized and commended for their dedication and efforts to meet the needs of 100% of the students. While few, if any, in the California community colleges claim to have succeeded in doing so, and most if not all would agree that much room remains for improvement, faculty in shared responsibility with classified professionals, administrators, and most importantly, students, have engaged in ongoing cycles of new initiative implementation, all aimed at serving every student with emphases on underrepresented and disproportionately impacted groups and specifically racial and ethnic groups.
Statewide initiatives and mandates have moved from requiring colleges to assess all entering students’ skills for appropriate course placement to requiring colleges to ensure that all students, with a few exceptions, enroll in transfer-level coursework. Furthermore, faculty continue to respond with a student-centered lens to legislation focused on transfer, performance-based funding, common course numbering, general education, and more. Through the sea change of mandates surrounding assessment, placement, and most recently, enrollment, legislation intended to streamline curricular offerings such as guided pathways, AB 928 (Berman, 2021) requiring a “singular lower division general education pathway” to determine eligibility for transfer to both the California State University and the University of California, and AB 1111 (Berman, 2021)—better known as common course numbering—faculty continue to focus on the needs of each and every student they serve.
The CCC system, with financial support from the California Legislature and Governor, has long invested in efforts to increase student access and success, with an intentional focus on under-represented racial and ethnic groups. The system has transitioned from supporting student development and readiness for transfer-level coursework to direct placement into transfer-level coursework with an option for concurrent support. Additionally, ambitious goals set by the Board of Governors, informed by the Chancellor’s Office, have been included in plans from the Partnership for Excellence  in 1998 (AB 1564) focused on improving student performance to the Vision for Success  in 2017 focused on reducing time and units to certificate and degree attainment.
While some critics may believe that faculty have only recently exhibited an interest in ensuring success for all students, and moreover are not student-centered, the last 25 years show quite the opposite.
|1998||Partnership for Excellence
$100M each year for 7 years
Budget crisis reduced funding in 2002-2004
|2002||ACCJC Accreditation Standards
Create, Assess, and Report Student Learning Outcomes for all courses and programs
|2004||SB 1415 (Brulte): Postsecondary Education: Donahoe Higher Education Act: Common course numbering system
SB 450 (Solis, 1995) and SB 851 (1983) were two earlier common course numbering bills
|2006||Basic Skills Initiative
Funding stopped in 2015
|2010||SB 1440 (Padilla): Transfer; Associate Degree for Transfer (ADT)|
|2011||AB 743 (Block): Common Assessment|
|2012||SB 1456 (Lowenthal): Seymour-Campbell Student Success Act of 2012
Education Plans and Success Metrics – Based on 22 recommendations from the Student Success Task Force
|2013||SB 440 (Padilla): Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act
ADT if a Local Associate Degree
|2016||Strong Workforce Program|
|2017||AB 705 (Irwin): Seymour-Campbell Student Success Act of 2012: Matriculation: assessment
Vision for Success System Goals
Open Educational Resources Initiative
|2018||Budget Act: Student Centered Funding Formula (SCFF)|
|2019||Budget Act: Cradle-to-Career Data System|
|2021||AB 928 (Berman): Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act of 2021
AB 1111 (Berman): Common Course Numbering
AB 927 (Medina): Baccalaureate Degrees
Ethnic Studies Title 5 Regulations
|2022||AB 1705 (Irwin): Seymour-Campbell Student Success Act of 2012
All students (with limited exceptions) in transfer-level English and math
As the Partnership for Excellence was sunsetting, the Chancellor’s Office began a strategic planning process for the purpose of improving student access and success. This planning process was inclusive and transparent, providing opportunity for input from colleges statewide and the system’s representative groups. The strategic plan was approved by the Board of Governors on January 17, 2006. In 2006-07, the California state budget included categorical funds allocated for basic skills education and support, known as the Basic Skills Initiative. During this time, the Chancellor’s Office commissioned the Research and Planning (RP) Group to conduct a study on effective practices in basic skills. The study culminated in the release of Basic Skills as a Foundation for Student Success in California Community Colleges , a report commonly referred to as the “Poppy Copy” due to the color of the cover of the publication. The Poppy Copy was a collaboration among the Chancellor’s Office, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, and the RP Group, with guidance from representatives of chief instructional and student services officers as well as other faculty and administrators looking to improve the educational programs and services for students in the CCC system.
In the Poppy Copy, many effective practices based on data were identified. Some are still used today with a modification for compliance with current legislation, such as “D.4: Culturally Responsive Teaching theory and practices are applied to all aspects of the developmental instructional programs and services.” However, one particular effective practice that included a recruiting and hiring criterion that faculty have knowledge and enthusiasm for developmental education may explain why faculty were so surprised at the mandates that were passed beginning in 2017: “A.6: Faculty who are both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about developmental education are recruited and hired to teach in the program.” Furthermore, a wise statement in the “Final Thoughts” on page 144 of the Poppy Copy is something that should resonate with all educators, especially those focused on culturally responsive teaching and intentionality in closing equity gaps: “Given that we certainly wouldn’t suggest a single approach will work for our diverse student populations, we would expect that a mix of programs would have both the benefit of matching student needs and potentially blending more cost-effective alternate approaches with more expensive approaches.”
After the Basic Skills Initiative, more interest arose from outside groups to streamline and ease transfer from the California community colleges to the CSU and UC. Although SB 1440 (Padilla) passed in 2010 as the associate degree for transfer bill, ASCCC representatives were working in the background designing structures and processes to make smooth transfer a reality; they recognized issues with transfer and set out to ensure transfer opportunities were in place for students from every background. The Course Identification Numbering System  (C-ID), constructed by the ASCCC, was born in 2007 following the passage of SB 1415 (Brulte, 2004), a bill on common course numbering. SB 1415 was the third bill since 1983 to require common course numbering; the first two iterations were found to be cost-prohibitive. C-ID is a supranumbering system created to ease transfer and articulation in California’s higher education institutions. C-ID, now the framework for the associate degrees for transfer (ADTs), facilitates the creation and updates for C-ID courses and transfer model curricula, components and templates of the ADTs. The most recent bill on common course numbering, AB 1111 (Berman, 2021), requires only the CCC system to implement student-facing common course numbers for all general education and transfer pathway courses that transfer to CSU and UC by July 1, 2024.
The drive to improve student outcomes has persisted. SB 1456 (Lowenthal), the Seymour-Campbell Student Success Act of 2012, was based on 22 recommendations from the 2011 Board of Governors Student Success Task Force (SSTF)  that were adopted by the Board of Governors on January 9, 2012. The SSTF members consisted of stakeholders from many constituencies, including faculty. In the introduction to the SSTF recommendations, a vision is stated and summarized on page 3: “This is the vision that the recommendations of this Task Force are designed to support. Taken alone, no single recommendation will get us there, but taken together, these policies could make the vision a reality for every student, at every college.” The goals of the SSTF were aimed at 100% of the students and included recommendations focused on traditionally under-represented students to attain educational equity.
Among the SSTF recommendations were a state-wide common assessment test and requirements for all incoming college students to receive an orientation, have a diagnostic assessment, and develop an education plan. Faculty worked hard to implement these requirements. The Common Assessment Initiative (CAI),  stemming from AB 743 (Block, 2011), began with $8 million in December of 2013 to create a state-wide common assessment based on multiple measures that considered student high school work and current skills. Another $24 million would be allocated over the next four years. However, after the governor signed AB 705 (Irwin, 2017) on October 13, 2017, then-Chancellor Eloy Oakley disseminated a Common Assessment Initiative Reset Memo  on October 24, 2017, suspending the development of the common assessment test. Many faculty across the state of California were deeply involved and believed in this effort. The CAI was terminated and buried along with four years of detailed and intensive work by faculty and other stakeholders.
In addition to the swift changes in assessment protocols came guided pathways, the Vision for Success, and the Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI). The OERI  is an ASCCC-backed project that the legislature funded with $6 million over five years to expand the availability and adoption of high-quality open educational resources. This initiative was exciting for the ASCCC as it was a way to equitize textbook availability for students in the CCC system.
In 2021, the legislature passed AB 928 (Berman), Associate Degrees for Transfer, and AB 1111 (Berman), Common Course Numbering, which were signed by the governor October 6, 2021. Both bills were aimed at streamlining student transfer and providing more students with access to transfer opportunities. Early implementation issues are appearing, especially with the requirement to limit the pathway that will determine transfer eligibility to both CSU and UC to no more than 34 required units. Some existing areas in the current CSU General Education Breadth requirements must be reduced or not included in the new pathway. Community college faculty leaders are working with CSU and UC faculty leaders to explore options to maintain valuable learning opportunities for all students.
Faculty and other system stakeholders achieved major victories with the passage of AB 927 (Medina), Baccalaureate Degrees, and the Title 5 Regulations on ethnic studies curriculum. Faculty saw the value in these programs and curriculum to students along with the data that supported student success and worked to get them codified.
The last big bill, AB 1705 (Irwin, 2022), was intended to strengthen AB 705 (Irwin, 2017) but has major implications beyond the elimination of basic skills programs. Most all students, with few exceptions, are to be placed and enrolled in transfer-level English and mathematics courses, and colleges cannot recommend that students take pretransfer courses. In addition, placement and enrollment in courses for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), noncredit, and CTE programs have new limitations. Colleges historically have not enrolled students; students enroll students and make their own choices. Therefore, colleges will need to devise plans for limiting enrollment in pretransfer-level courses if colleges choose to maintain access for some populations. The ASCCC continues to work collaboratively with system partners to provide recommendations to the Chancellor’s Office on implementation and evaluation on AB 1705 and all other legislation and initiatives regarding academic and professional matters. As colleges implement AB 1705, they must proceed with integrity and with a student-centered approach. Comprehensive data collection is necessary, including collection of qualitative and quantitative information that examines the impacts on all students and not just those who are experiencing their first time in college, fully disaggregating data that considers retention, persistence, and success along with the Chancellor’s Office definition of throughput, collecting student data before and after census dates, and, finally, looking at the opportunities and challenges for students that can only attend part time.
This brief review of the system’s history demonstrates that for more than two decades faculty have been fully invested in a multi-pronged approach to ensure access and success for every student with an intentional focus on disproportionately impacted groups. Consistent with this faculty commitment, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges does not oppose any specific approach to improving access and success, including direct placement in transfer-level course work. The ASCCC supports access to all coursework, including just-in-time support and scaffolded approaches.
As the table included earlier shows, numerous initiatives and requirements have been passed in bills, trailer bills, and other initiatives, all intended to improve student outcomes. While faculty may have questioned the wisdom behind some of the new requirements, they have always remained student-centered in their concerns when it comes to academic and professional matters. Faculty, with the ASCCC as their representative voice, are compelled and driven to ensure implementation strategies and protocols are student-centered and structured to meet the needs of 100% of the students.
1. For further information on Partnership for Excellence, see the following: Partnership for Excellence (https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED480774.pdf), PFE 1998-1999 Budget (https://lao.ca.gov/1998/082498_bud_major_features/082498_major_features.html), CCCCO Report on PFE 2004 (https://www.cccco.edu/-/media/CCCCO-Website/About-Us/Reports/Files/agency_review_final_report.pdf), LAO Report 2007 (https://lao.ca.gov/analysis_2007/education/ed_22_6870_anl07.aspx).
2. The Vision for Success can be found at https://www.cccco.edu/About-Us/Vision-for-Success.
3. Basic Skills as a Foundation for Student Success in California Community Colleges is available at https://rpgroup.org/Portals/0/Documents/Projects/Basic%20Skills%20as%20a%20Foundation%20for%20Success/rp-basic-skills-2007.pdf
4. Information on C-ID is available at https://c-id.net . For further information, see the C-ID/TMC/ADT Handbook at https://asccc.org/sites/default/files/2022-11/C-ID%3ATMC%3AADT%20Handbook%20Fall%202022%20V3.pdf.
5. The Student Success Taskforce recommendations can be found in the attachment at the bottom of the page here: https://www.asccc.org/resolutions/implementation-student-success-task-force-recommendations.
6. Information on the Common Assessment Initiative is available at https://ccctechedge.org/news/miscellaneous/422-common-assessment-initiative-to-create-statewide-platform. The Common Assessment Initiative page on the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office website no longer contains information on the Common Assessment Initiative.
7. ASCCC Resolution F17 07.07 referencing the memo can be found at https://www.asccc.org/resolutions/implementing-ab-705-irwin-2017-serve-needs-all-community-college-students.
8. Information on ASCCC OERI is available at https://asccc-oeri.org.
Assembly Bills, Prerequisites, and Transfer
A great deal of fear surrounds the implementation of recent legislation and how it might impact the very interconnected California higher education system, courses, and most importantly students. As basic skills courses have become scarce, concerns have arisen about how to maintain course eligibility for transfer when the required basic skills prerequisites may no longer be offered by the college.
AB 705 (Irwin, 2017) was passed in 2017 and discouraged the placement of students into pre-transfer intermediate algebra while encouraging placement of students directly into transfer-level math based on multiple measures data. Some colleges completely eliminated pre-transfer offerings in response to a 2022 required plan from the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office that asked colleges to justify, with data, the scheduling of pre-transfer math courses. Faculty became increasingly concerned about California State University and University of California articulation requirements because they may require a prerequisite or corequisite to approve courses as transferable.
All California community colleges are also soon to implement common course numbering statewide on or before July 1, 2024 due to the passing of AB 1111 (Berman, 2021). This bill requires all colleges in California to adopt the same course number for comparable courses in order to “streamline transfer from two- to four-year postsecondary educational institutions and reduce excess credit accumulation,” starting with C-ID courses. C-ID also recommends specific prerequisites for course alignment.
Looking at both required and recommended prerequisites, faculty have noted that many of the courses that are now scarcely offered, or are no longer offered at all, are the same courses that are recommended or required by the university systems. The University of California held a webinar in 2021 to address this issue, letting articulation officers know that they could rest assured that courses do not need to be offered at a college in order to meet the curricular prerequisite requirements. They even gave suggested language that could be used in lieu of a specific course. The UC Office of the President initiated a faculty review of the UC Transfer Course Agreement (TCA) Guidelines in response to community college faculty questions about AB 705’s impact on community college courses and their UC-transferability. The review affirmed the following:
- With regard to a prerequisite or co-requisite, the UC checks for but does not evaluate the prerequisite or co-requisite in TCA submissions in English composition, English writing, mathematics, and statistics.
- As noted in the UC Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools' “Statement on Basic Math for all Admitted UC students”: “As is current practice, UC will not assess the content of prerequisites for UC-transferable courses. The prerequisite courses will be identified by the faculty at the community colleges. The system of using Transferable Course Agreements between the segments of higher education in California is based on trust and respect for the faculty’s authority to make local decisions consistent with the broad guidelines for such agreements…” 
In February 2022, the UC offered even more guidance in a special webinar titled, “Yours, Mine, and Ours”, which shared the following suggested language to be used on course outlines of record in lieu of a specific course:
Examples of descriptive language Articulation Officers have entered into the prerequisite field when not listing a course as a prerequisite:
- “Multiples measures as determined by faculty”
- “Completion of Intermediate Algebra or appropriate placement based on AB 705 mandates”
- “Completion of intermediate algebra or equivalent”
- “ENGL 10 or ENGL 20 or placement in ENGL 1A”
One final concern some colleges have noted is that their curriculum software only allows them to put a specific course as a prerequisite, as opposed to the suggested language in lieu of a course. This issue can be resolved easily, as other areas are present where notes can simply be added to course submissions when software does not allow descriptive language like that suggested by the UC in the prerequisite field of the course outline of record.
Intersegmental coordination has become more important with the broad sweeping changes brought about by recent legislation. As colleges move forward to continue to implement pending legislation, faculty must remain vocal about any unintended consequences for transfer-bound students. The ASCCC will continue to bring feedback to discussions and to advocate with legislators as well as the CSU and UC system offices to ensure these ambitious efforts are feasible and equitable and meet the needs of all students.
1. The full statement is available at https://senate.universityofcalifornia.edu/_files/committees/boars/BOARSStatementonBasicMath.pdf.
Supporting Faculty with Equitable Student Placement
Assembly Bills 705 (Irwin, 2017) and 1705 (Irwin, 2021) have reduced or removed student access to foundational courses that may significantly strengthen their overall college success, raising important questions as to whether all community college students enter their courses with the same resources and educational privilege. These assembly bills have challenged and will continue to challenge faculty to continue their work toward supporting student success. The California community colleges educate a large and diverse student population. Advancing student equity requires understanding students’ individual needs and supporting faculty and colleges to develop a variety of strategies to meet the unique needs of all students. The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) has consistently advocated for local innovation and flexibility in implementing AB 705 and AB 1705.
The delegates to the Fall 2020 Plenary Session passed Resolution 18.01 F20, which asked the ASCCC to “write a paper on optimizing student success by evaluating placement in English, English as a Second Language (ESL), and mathematics pathways.” Recognizing that the curriculum in these disciplines is very different, the ASCCC Executive Committee voted in November 2022 to write separate papers focusing on optimizing placement in English, ESL, and math individually. The first paper will focus on math placement, and it builds on the ASCCC’s 2020 white paper Optimizing Student Success – An Academic Senate White Paper.  Subsequent papers will be produced on English and ESL placement.
In preparation for writing these papers, the ASCCC Data and Research Task Force (DRTF) was established in 2021-22. The DRTF laid the foundation to write the papers by designing surveys on English, ESL, and math placement and outcomes in Spring 2022. These surveys were distributed to ASCCC listservs. In 2022-23, the Data and Research Committee began looking at the survey data. The survey responses represent a sample of colleges across the state, and the responses reflect the diverse curriculum and placement practices in English, ESL, and math.
Each survey asked about what faculty need to support student success in the classroom in light of the legislated requirements for student placement. Regardless of the discipline, the answers largely converged on a few commonalities. The most frequent response called for more embedded tutors and supplemental instruction in English, ESL, and math courses. Faculty at all colleges have worked to find ways to support student learning, including corequisite courses, expanded tutoring, and embedded tutors in classrooms. These support strategies are being implemented individually or in combination. Survey responses reported that where colleges use embedded tutors in courses, not all course sections have embedded tutors, resulting in discrepancies in the educational experiences of students. The impact of the legislation on curriculum resulted in many calls for smaller class sizes to provide more individualized attention to help student learning. Some responses called for support in continued discipline-centered plans to redesign curriculum along with sustained financial and time resources to support faculty professional development.
Faculty also noted the importance of more active learning strategies, especially in courses that now have additional in-class hours in the form of corequisite content. To support active learning and more individualized instruction, faculty called for redesigned classroom spaces. Recognizing that the shift to remote instruction during the pandemic highlighted equity gaps in access to technology, respondents called for students to have increased, improved, and equitable access to technology both in the classroom and at home.
A final common point was the need to include and support the part-time faculty who teach a large percentage of the classes as they redesign their courses to meet the legislated requirements.
Survey responses highlighted a need to strengthen relationships with counseling, support staff, and administration. These relationships increase college-wide awareness of changes in curriculum and the need to monitor student success throughout the semester and through the students’ educational journeys. Although the primary impacts of AB 705 were on curriculum, many students now find themselves in English and math courses with corequisites now requiring more classroom time spent on a single subject. Part-time students who might have previously taken fewer units may now be taking more units. Relationships with counseling will help guide students in choosing their courses, and as the term progresses, counselors can support students if they should begin to face challenges. Survey responses called for embedding counselors in courses, recognizing the benefits of having ready access to a counselor who can provide academic and personal resources to students as needs arise. As student support structures evolve, all faculty must know where to get assistance and where to send their students for assistance.
As colleges work to implement AB 1705, they must continue to develop innovative curriculum to support student success. Responses to the ESL survey noted the possibility for cross-disciplinary discussions with English faculty as students transition from one course sequence in the ESL discipline to the English sequence. In English, survey responses called for more specialized corequisite or supplemental instruction to work on topics such as information literacy, grammar, and reading. Math survey responses called for additional in-class or out-of-class time to support basic skills development and practice concurrently with the concepts being taught in transfer-level courses. To support success through a math sequence, particularly in business and STEM majors, faculty responses indicated a need to provide students with continued support in courses beyond the introductory transfer level.
Although AB 705 and AB 1705 have direct impacts on math, English, and ESL, faculty in all disciplines must continue to monitor student access and success. More broadly speaking, faculty should ensure that their colleges prioritize equitable access to higher education. All of these changes will require a careful balance of curricular and student support innovations along with data collection. Successfully serving students will require that colleges share innovative strategies to meet the individual needs of their students with regard to math, English and ESL and help the students begin their college journeys by acquiring the collegiate skills necessary for success in all courses. These statewide responses may help support local discussions about innovation and data collection in departments, curriculum committees, and academic senates and with colleagues in administration.
1. Optimizing Student Success – An Academic Senate White Paper is available at https://asccc.org/papers/optimizing-student-success-academic-senate-white-paper.
Work Experience Regulation Changes: Expanded Opportunities for Experiential Learning
In July 2022, the California Community Colleges Board of Governors passed the first substantive Title 5 updates to work experience in over 50 years. These regulations expand opportunities for students to take hands-on or experiential learning courses in credit and noncredit, define new accounting models and registration opportunities, and make processes more efficient.  To revise these 50-year-old regulations, it took nearly 10 years of collaboration through the California Community Colleges Curriculum Committee (5C). Within 5C, a workgroup of faculty, staff, students, and administrators worked together with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office representatives and CCCCO legal counsel to develop and ultimately propose these changes to the Board of Governors. The leaders of this effort in 2022 included Association of Community and Continuing Education representative to 5C Jan Young, President of California Internship & Work Experience Association Brook Oliver, and Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) faculty representative Erik Shearer. A significant amount of work was dedicated to these efforts that support students in their future career endeavors.
The goal of the regulation changes was to facilitate paid and unpaid work-based learning opportunities for students. The focus was on multiple sections of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations: Division 6, Chapter 6, Subchapter 1, Article 1; Division 6, Chapter 6, Subchapter 3, Article 4; and Division 6, Chapter 9, Subchapter 1, Article 2. One of the first recommended changes was to the title of the regulation, evolving from “Cooperative Work Experience,” to more simply, “Work Experience.” Included in the Title 5 changes is an updated definition of work experience, which is, “to provide students with an integrated instructional program that provides opportunities to connect curricula to applied experimental learning in the workplace. Work experience within the California community colleges involves student employment and/or internships selected, approved and supervised by districts to provide meaningful work experience related to a course of study or specific career pathway …” (Title 5 §55250 (a),(b)). Work experience is a component of work-based learning, which was explored in the 2019 ASCCC paper Work Based Learning in California Community Colleges. This paper defines work-based learning as an educational strategy used to connect classroom instruction to careers by providing students with opportunities to reinforce and make relevant their classroom experience (ASCCC, 2019).
The regulations were also reviewed for alignment with the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, California Community Colleges Chancellors Office’s Vision for Success, and the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Anti-Racism and Accessibility Framework.
The importance and impact of experiential learning opportunities for students led to major changes in the new regulations. These changes include the following:
- Expanded opportunities for programs beyond career technical education (CTE) to utilize work experience to give students hands-on opportunities in all academic programs, whether career or transfer-oriented.
- Expanded opportunities for work experience, which can now be a credit course, noncredit course, or integrated into a component of a course, whereas work experience was only recognized as a credit course previously.
- Work experience credit hours are standardized at 54 semester hours/unit and 33 quarter hours/unit for paid and unpaid work experience, which is better aligned with traditional credit hour definitions than the prior hour requirements.
- An expansion of students’ opportunities to enroll in work experience: Limitations on the number of work experience units taken in a lifetime were eliminated.
- Students can continue to repeat work experience courses subject to Title 5 §55040.
- Students are now allowed to have a maximum of 14 semester credit hours or 21 quarter credit hours during an enrollment period.
Work-based learning is a critical element of community college instructional programs and student preparation for the world of work. The updated regulations and expansion of work experience in noncredit and non-CTE programs are exciting opportunities for each and every California community college throughout the system. Local academic senates should work with their CTE liaisons and curriculum committees to discuss the potential impact afforded with these regulation changes and consider how they can provide more opportunities for students to earn credit for hands-on experience in their future careers.
Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. (2019) Work Based Learning in California Community Colleges, https://www.asccc.org/sites/default/files/Work_Based_Learning.pdf
1. The text of the regulation changes can be found at https://go.boarddocs.com/ca/cccchan/Board.nsf/files/CG3R2N6B41DB/$file/work-experience-education-regulatory-text-a11y(871920.1).pdf.
The Driving Principles of the Ethnic Studies Disciplines
The founding of ethnic studies is attributed to the 1968 and 1969 student strikes at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley, led primarily by the Third World Liberation Front. As part of their demands, the students called for the establishment of four departments: American Indian Studies, Asian American Studies, Black Studies, and La Raza Studies, all to be housed under a School of Ethnic Studies (Delgado, 2016).
Ethnic studies is a categorical term used to describe the four core autonomous disciplines of African American/ Black/Africana Studies, Latina/o/ Chicana/o Studies, Asian American Studies, and Native American/American Indian Studies. Ethnic studies is an umbrella term of reference emerging on some campuses as the collection of and in some instances as a comparison of all four core autonomous disciplines within one institutional department. The four core autonomous disciplines are the heart of ethnic studies.
In the late 1960s, in the midst of the civil rights movements and particularly in California, public colleges and universities began to expand their access to communities of color. Students who began to arrive on campuses throughout the state found themselves with little support and resources. By 1968, students demanded that colleges and universities address the issues confronting first-generation students of color. In fact, the Third World Liberation Front Strike at San Francisco State University and UC Berkeley pushed for the formation of ethnic studies programs. The first Black Studies program began in 1968 at SFSU. By 1969, Black Studies programs were established at Merritt College and Fresno College. Between 1968 and 1973, roughly 600 programs and departments were created.
Fifty-four years later, ethnic studies programs that were thought to have died actually flourished. The largest ethnic studies program in the country is the Chicana and Chicano Studies Department at California State University, Northridge (CSUN). The department has over 22 tenure-track faculty with another 32 adjunct faculty. At CSUN, the Chicana and Chicano Studies, Asian American Studies, and Central American Studies departments and the Native American Studies program are housed in the College of Humanities, while the Africana Studies department sits in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Each discipline is its own academic unit (Delgado, 2016).
From the start, each of the four core autonomous disciplines in ethnic studies developed with its own set of theoretical frameworks and research interests. Faculty who began to work in ethnic studies came from different traditional disciplines. Early undergraduate programs required students to take courses within the ethnic studies disciplines that met the social science and humanities requirements. As a result, ethnic studies programs used an interdisciplinary approach to the study of people of color, not by developing a curriculum with other departments but instead by developing their own set of theoretical frameworks that interrogate the relationship of social structure to those of literary and cultural practices and question or challenge traditional disciplinary boundaries and assumptions. Many traditional departments rejected an interdisciplinary approach, instead adopting a colonial scarcity mindset of self-preservation, missing out on deeper understanding through collaboration.
Ethnic studies situate the experience of people of color in methodological framing that emphasizes both the structural dimensions of race and racism—social, political, and economic inequalities and struggles against them—and the associated cultural dimensions—literary, artistic, musical, and other forms of humanistic expression. Because ethnic studies disciplines focus on a holistic perspective of communities of color, they touch upon various traditional disciplines in their course catalog. Students of ethnic studies disciplines often take on more than one field in their studies and graduate with academic foundations in both ethnic studies and another discipline. Ethnic studies courses also often combine theoretical approaches from different disciplines in order to gain a more holistic understanding of a topic.
By the end of the twentieth century, many ethnic studies programs were established throughout the U.S., offering degrees from associate through doctorate. Nevertheless, these programs have continued to struggle for resources and recognition. The establishment of ethnic studies requirements at the California State University by 2021 and in the California community colleges by 2022 gives these disciplines a legitimacy that should equate to more resources.
Principles and Theory
Respect, reflection, critical consciousness, hope, solidarity, community, and transformation within an American experience set the principles through which ethnic studies scholars view their work. These principles are sometimes referred to as the "7 Cs", which stands for celebrate, center, cultivate, critique, challenge, connect, and conceptualize (Montano & Carrasco Cardona, n.d.; Tintiangco-Cubales & Curammeng, 2018; Tolteka Cuauhtin, 2019; Yosso, 2005).
Ethnic studies celebrates and honors native peoples and communities of color by holding space for their stories of struggle and resistance and respecting their intellectual and cultural wealth (Yosso, 2005). Stories within racialized communities of color have either been made invisible or have been misrepresented in academia. These communities often have little knowledge of their own historical legacy because of colonial or imperial hegemony. Stories are important to knowing who they are and where they come from: “the great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it . . .and history is literally present in all that we do” (Baldwin, 2021). History is a frame of reference from which one understands one’s identity. Culture and language are passed down from one’s ancestors. These stories are important to centering and securing racialized communities of color within their identities.
Ethnic studies centers Black, Indigenous, People of Color (hooks, 1984), understanding that cultural wealth comes from pre-colonial, ancestral, Indigenous, diasporic, and familial knowledge (Yosso, 2005). Ethnic studies disciplines understand education to be liberating, reflecting Freirean ideology. They challenge traditional notions of academia and traditional disciplines. The four core disciplines were created in part to address the misrepresentation and absence of communities of color in college curriculum, to decolonize academia through an interdisciplinary holistic approach to fully explore and understand the people. The focus is on a holistic perspective of communities of color, incorporating other discipline areas, often combining diverse theoretical approaches from these disciplines in order to gain a more comprehensive understanding.
Ethnic studies critiques and challenges white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and imperialist and colonial hegemony and practices at the ideological, systemic, institutional, interpersonal and internalized levels (Montano & Carrasco Cardona, n.d.; Tintiangco-Cubales & Curammeng, 2018; Tolteka Cuauhtin, 2019). Forms of oppression exist inherently in U.S. financial, educational, legal, political, governmental, social, and religious systems. An anti-racist and decolonial pedagogical critical lens is required to see the oppression in the first place so that institutions can address it and make change.
Because they are interdisciplinary in nature, the four core ethnic studies disciplines often analyze points of intersectionality between ethnicity and other constructs such as class and gender. While courses in ethnic studies disciplines touch on concepts of social justice, they do so through an ethnic lens. Students study historical and contemporary effects of racism, imperialism, sexism, patriarchy, heterosexism, and more. Through this intersectional framework, students develop critical consciousness, heal, and reclaim hope. Hope is imperative for change.
Ethnic studies connects to past and contemporary social justice and liberation movements (Montano & Carrasco Cardona, n.d.; Tintiangco-Cubales & Curammeng, 2018; Tolteka Cuauhtin, 2019) because the four core disciplines are meant to not only serve academic functions but also to educate and empower community activists to make positive social change. When racialized communities unite, organize, and mobilize to coordinate acts of resistance, disrupting and dismantling inequitable systems, a synergy manifests. The four core disciplines that make up the field of ethnic studies originated from a social movement. Unlike traditional disciplines, ethnic studies disciplines stem from a demand by students to decolonize academia and strive to present themes and topics through the lens of the community rather than a Eurocentric lens. Connections with the community open a key relationship between ethnic studies programs and the students and communities they serve.
Ethnic studies conceptualizes, imagines, and builds new possibilities for post-imperial life that promotes hope, healing, and collective narratives of transformative resistance (Montano & Carrasco Cardona, n.d.; Tintiangco-Cubales & Curammeng, 2018; Tolteka Cuauhtin, 2019). For many communities of color, ethnic studies programs serve as the only spaces on a college campus where students feel a sense of belonging. Ethnic studies encourages the development of a critical consciousness, radical hope, and self-love (hooks, 1984), which can lead to collective agency to transform academia and community.
Overview – California
Currently, ethnic studies is part of the California State University general education breadth requirement under Area F. The University of California has also adopted the ethnic studies requirement under Area 7 under Cal-GETC. The UC agreed that if an ethnic studies course has been approved for the CSU Area F, the UC will accept the course under Area 7.
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office’s Ethnic Studies Task Force developed competencies that reflect both the CSU and UC competencies. By the end of Spring 2023, the California Community Colleges system will have its own ethnic studies core competencies established. They have been developed and are being reviewed and vetted. The core competencies will be ready in time for the California community colleges’ ethnic studies requirement implementation in Fall 2024. As the deadline approaches, the task force is preparing professional development seminars and other supportive activities that will assist with implementation. The California Community Colleges, CSU, and UC systems continue to work toward intersegmental alignment for a smooth transition.
Baldwin, J. (2021). The Price of the Ticket: Collected Nonfiction: 1948–1985. Beacon Press.
Delgado, Z. J. (2016). The Longue Durée of Ethnic Studies: Race, Education and the Struggle for Self-Determination. [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. UC Berkeley. https://escholarship.org/uc/item/84n3f8kh
hooks, b. (1984). Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. South End Press.
Montano, T., & Carrasco Cardona, G. (Leads). (n.d.). Liberated Ethnic Studies Model Curriculum Consortium. Retrieved January 10, 2023, from https://www.liberatedethnicstudies.org/
Tintiangco-Cubales, A. & Curammeng, E. (2018). Pedagogies of Resistance: Filipina/o Gestures of Rebellion Against the Inheritance of American Schooling. In T. Buenavista & A. Ali, eds., Education at War: The Fight for Students of Color in America (pp. 233–238.). Fordham University Press.
Tolteka Cuauhtin, R. (2019). The Ethnic Studies Framework, A Holistic Overview. In R. Tolteka Cuauhtin, M. Zavala, C. Sleeter, and W. Au, eds. Rethinking Ethnic Studies (pp. 65–75). Rethinking Schools.
Yosso, T. (2005). Whose Culture Has Capital? A Critical Race Theory Discussion of Community Cultural Wealth. Race, Ethnicity and Education, 8(1), 69–91.
“When Did We Decide That?”: Delineation of the 10+1 in Local Governance Documents
As part of standards published by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, institutions need to demonstrate that “The institution regularly reviews institutional policies, procedures, and publications to assure integrity in all representations of its mission, programs, and services” (ACCJC Standard I.C.5). Many California community college districts have set various calendars and processes for how a local senate and faculty participate in this review. This fact is especially true for any policy that impacts academic and professional matters as outlined in Title 5 §53200, colloquially known as the "10 +1".
According to Title 5 §53200 (d), “collegial consultation” is defined and further bifurcated to be either “relies primarily” on the advice and judgment of the academic senate or reaching “mutual agreement” as it relates to academic and professional matters as listed in Title 5 §53200 (c). In past years, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges has provided many presentations and publications outlining the historical creation of academic senates and their purview that has been codified in law. The recently updated ASCCC Local Senates Handbook is a great resource to share with new faculty or for those who would like a refresher on that history. 
In the Yuba Community College District, according to local board policy (BP) on “Participation in Local Decision-Making,” the 10+1 items numbered one through three are considered “rely primarily” and numbered items four through ten are “mutual agreement.” During a routine and scheduled review that raised this BP for a perfunctory review, participants posed what seemed to be a simple question: When did the college decide which of the 10+1 are "rely primarily" and which are "mutual agreement"? As the participants began to realize that they did not have the institutional history to answer this question, one began a local quest to find it. He sought assistance from district staff to find historical records, leading to many scanned documents that were originally developed on a typewriter and filed in a cabinet. He then reacquainted himself to the historical context for the establishment of these requirements, which included a review of the original text for the Community College Reform Act (AB 1725, Vasconcellos, 1988) and other support documents that were shared at the time with local districts to help implement the new reforms. Ultimately, he determined that when the district established this new required policy, the delineation was set and has been the status quo for roughly 35 years since. Many other districts likely share similar histories.
A recent systematic review of board policies from districts around the community college system revealed the various ways in which academic and professional matters are delineated at different institutions. The chart below summarizes the number of districts that have identified the delineation of collegial consultation with a percentage from the entire review of 73 college district policies.
|Area of Academic and Professional Matters||Rely Primarily||Mutual Agreement||Not Delineated|
|1. Curriculum, including establishing prerequisites and placing courses within disciplines||53||73%||6||8%||14||19%|
|2. Degree and certificate requirements||53||73%||5||7%||14||19%|
|3. Grading Policies||53||73%||6||8%||14||19%|
|4. Educational program development||30||41%||29||40%||14||19%|
|5. Standards or policies regarding student preparation and success||41||56%||18||25%||14||19%|
|6. District governance structures, as related to faculty roles||24||33%||35||48%||14||19%|
|7. Faculty roles and involvement in accreditation processes, including self-study and annual reports||29||40%||30||41%||14||19%|
|8. Polices for faculty professional development activities||41||56%||18||25%||14||19%|
|9. Processes for program review||23||32%||36||49%||14||19%|
|10. Process for institutional planning and budget development||19||26%||40||55%||14||19%|
Initial observations from this data include the following: 14 college districts did not offer any delineation of collegial consultation. For the other 59 districts, one can see the distribution of “rely primarily” and “mutual agreement” for the areas of academic and professional matters. One district offered an explicit split of both “rely primarily” and “mutual agreement” for the area of degree and certificate requirements. In this one unique district, a further delineation existed for general education and program specifics that it would be “rely primarily,” but on recommendations involving the topic of “units of degrees” this conversation would move to a “mutual agreement.” Additionally, 17 college districts elected “rely primarily” for all 10 of the 10+1, and four college districts indicated “mutual agreement” for all 10.
This information might help districts to consider their own policies on consultation and the delineation of primarily rely and mutually agree areas. Current policies and structures may be historical and entrenched, and changing them might be difficult, as it would involve local governing board approval. Indeed, some districts may be very happy with their policies and may not need to explore changes. However, such policies can be discussed and challenged, and such discussion might be a healthy activity before a district and a faculty simply accept existing policy as unchangeable.
1. The Local Senates Handbook Handbook can be accessed at https://asccc.org/sites/default/files/publications/Local_Senates_Handbook_2020_v2.pdf.
Addressing the Stigmatization of Academic Probation
The term “probation” in American society is linked to criminality. By using this term to indicate students’ academic status, colleges may be creating trauma, telling students that they are doing something wrong, and causing feelings of anxiety, fear, discouragement, embarrassment, and depression. This connection is particularly acute for Black and Brown students who face racial bias, microaggressions, and macroaggressions. It is also traumatic for justice-involved students. This deficit-minded language of probation, codified in California Title 5 Regulations, can cause damage to students. Colleges should consider ways to change their processes and policies to decriminalize the process of improving academic outcomes for students who are struggling and instead focus language and practice on empowering and supporting students.
The language for probation is established in Title 5 §55031, “Standards for Probation.” It delineates two types of probation: academic probation and progress probation. Academic probation focuses on a student’s grade point average (GPA) when the GPA falls below a 2.0 after the student has attempted at least 12 semester units. Progress probation focuses on the number of units completed in courses with “W”, “I”, “NP,” or “NC” grade notifications. Many factors might contribute to a student being placed on academic or progress probation, including life changes, basic needs insecurity, lack of transportation, family demands, emergencies, or requirements, and more. None of these factors warrant the criminalized label of probation. Studies from the Research and Planning Group show that practices like putting students on academic or progress probation disproportionally impact Black students. In a study of students in California community colleges from 2011 to 2016, the data shows that 41% of Black Students were placed on probation versus 24% of White students (Cooper, et. al., 2022).
The intent behind placing students with low GPAs or multiple withdrawals on probation is to inform the students of their status and ensure that they have additional support, such as access to counseling. Local probation processes often require students to regularly meet with counselors, regulate a student’s schedule, and require completion of workshops and creation of action plans. Students identified as being on probation are also penalized through registration priorities and reduced access to financial aid such as Cal Grants, increasing the difficulty for students to make progress and be removed from probation.
Counselors and others working with students on probation are committed to supporting students, and many students are successful in fulfilling probation requirements and are placed back in good standing. However, for many other students, being put on probation is traumatic and impacts their lives and educational goals. Student services faculty and staff are bound by current Title 5 regulations that require probation in its current punitive and criminalized state.
A recent study at California State University, Fullerton discussed the use of “criminal justice lexicon” (Boretz, 2021) to identify student status. The evidence suggests that “such language has an effect on underrepresented students’ sense of belonging and perceived ability to thrive as learners and future learners” (Boretz, 2021). The study done by CSU Fullerton also found a disproportionate number of Hispanic and Black male students were being impacted by probation policies. The study showed that male students were twice as likely to drop out of college as women on probation. Students surveyed stated that they reported feeling “scared” by the phrase academic probation (Boretz, 2021). Probation was viewed as a punishment.
A Research and Planning Group (RP Group) study also shows the negative impact of probation on students achieving their goals. The RP Group brief The African American Tipping Point: Identifying the Factors That Impact Transfer Among African American/Black Community College Students states that being placed on academic probation “presents a significant barrier to making it near the transfer gate for students of all races/ethnicities” (Cooper, et. al., 2022). This practice is most impactful to Black students, who are more likely than other students to be placed on academic probation. Continuing these policies that harm students runs fundamentally counter to the California Community Colleges system Vision for Success, which states a goal of “making sure students from all backgrounds succeed in reaching their goals and improving their families and communities, eliminating achievement gaps once and for all” (CCCCO, n.d.).
In Spring 2022, in response to its internal study, CSU Fullerton officially changed its policies to eliminate the term “academic probation.” CSU Fullerton has changed the process to be called “academic notice” in hopes of “making students, especially students of color, feel less stigmatized” (Steele, D, 2022). This first step is a good beginning. The name change will help with some of the trauma, but real systemic change needs to be a next step. Colleges cannot just change the name of a policy and leave the broken policy to continue to negatively impact students.
California community colleges need less punitive, proactive, and asset-minded processes to support students who are struggling. This improved practice would begin with Title 5 changes that redefine probation and center in strategies to support, not penalize, students. Such policies relate directly to academic and professional matters in the area of “standards and policies regarding student preparation and success” under the purview of academic senates as indicated in Title 5 §53200 (c)(5). Faculty both locally and statewide can and should be leaders in this change. As colleges wait for regulatory changes, local academic senates can work on identifying what they can do to support students on probation. Academic senates can focus on reviewing local policies and procedures including scholarship eligibility, registration priorities, and communication and support for students on probation. Together at the statewide and local levels, faculty can work together to stop this trauma.
Boretz, E., Gunn, K, & La Pietra, D. (2021). Toward a Racially and Culturally Sensitive Renaming of “Academic Probation.” California State University, Fullerton, http://itwebstg.fullerton.edu/aac/Academic%20Notice%20White%20Paper%202021.pdf
California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. (n.d.) Vision for Success. https://www.cccco.edu/About-Us/Vision-for-Success
Cooper, D., Brohawn, K., Nguyen, A., Purnell, R., Redox, A., & Segovia, D. (2022). The African American Tipping Point: Identifying the Factors that Impact Transfer Among African American/Black Community College Students, Brief 1 of 3, Research and Planning Group, https://rpgroup.org/Portals/0/Documents/Projects/African_American_Transfer_Tipping_Point-(AATTP)-Study/AATTP_Brief1_Fall2022.pdf
Steele, D. (2022, April 18). A Positive Change for a Negative Label. Inside Higher Ed, https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2022/04/18/csu-fullerton-changes-term-academic-probation-notice?utm_source=Inside+Higher+Ed&utm_campaign=eaad123db5-DNU_2021_COPY_02&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1fcbc04421-eaad123db5-198604945&mc_cid=eaad123db5&mc_eid=2f03ba8d16
The "I Made It” Chair: Applying Futures Thinking to Create a Student-Centered Counseling Model
Note: The following article is not an official statement of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. The article is intended to engender discussion and consideration by local colleges but should not be seen as the endorsement of any position or practice by the ASCCC.
California community colleges have embraced the student-centered Guided Pathways framework to eliminate equity gaps. From clarifying pathways to front-loading career development and revising curriculum to providing integrated support, colleges are redesigning the student experience. Several colleges are adopting case management models to scale counseling and educational planning. Many of these efforts are only surface-level changes. The majority of students will continue to experience counseling services in the same way as they did prior to the adoption of Guided Pathways.
A different mindset described as “futures thinking” (Gorbis, 2019) can help to further refine counseling services. The following exercise might be used in a presentation to demonstrate this concept. The exercise would explore a potential future in counseling services where the student is truly the center and the focus. Participants would be asked to read the following scenario and take five minutes to write a descriptive narrative:
Scenario: The dean of counseling announces that beginning right now, counseling services will be conducted differently. You, along with all other counselors, have been instructed that when you call a student into a private office space, the student is to be invited to sit in “your chair” and you are to sit in the “student chair.” Your student appointment has just arrived.
Exercise: Take a moment to write down as much descriptive detail as possible about how you feel, what you think, and what you do in the next five minutes. Who is the student, and what does the student feel, think, and do in these five minutes? What is the conversation? Who else is involved? Develop a narrative with rich descriptive detail.
According to futures thinking, this type of exercise is critical to developing foresight, which then leads to insight and then to action. In other words, a futurist “builds plausible, internally consistent views of the future” (Gorbis, 2019) by developing scenarios and asking, “What does this mean to us?” The resultant insight can then be used to determine what actions should be taken to prepare for the potential future scenario. This foresight-insight-action framework can be used to apply proactive imagination to envisioning and creating the future one desires and taking the necessary actions to make it happen. By describing the scenario in detail, one can gain empathy for oneself and others. By sharing narratives with others, one can begin to learn the diverse responses to such a scenario and to gain the insight needed to develop an action plan that is well-informed.
In this scenario, one might imagine the student in many ways, such as a first-generation college student, a minoritized student, or a single Latina mother with her infant. One might also imagine the office in various ways, characterizing it as one’s own or as the student’s office. Other subjective variables may also come into play, such as how one imagines the student’s expression, how comfortable one would feel, and who was in control.
In reflecting on the exercise, one might consider what resistance one experienced in reading and reflecting, what needs to be addressed before one would feel comfortable in this student-centered scenario, what may need to change in one’s approach, and how one could decenter oneself and move toward this student-centered model.
The exercise might also lead one to ponder the future of counseling, such as whether counseling must even be performed in an office in the future scenario, what counseling might look like in five, ten, or fifteen years, and what new technology, behaviors, or services might be employed.
Finally, one might consider the potential impact if every counseling department or area meeting started with a foresight-insight-action framework scenario.
Many in the counseling profession—whether within education, private practice, or healthcare and social assistance—engage in developing a holistic assessment of those they serve. They ask questions intended to learn and gain a deeper understanding of who they are serving and how they can collaborate with the students or clients with the goal of empowering them. The interesting aspect of the counselor-student relationship is that counselors strategically collaborate with students to create a safe environment by processing emotions, setting goals, and determining methods to accomplish those goals.
However, counselors tend to operate from a hierarchical approach simply based on where students and counselors sit when entering an office. For example, a 15-year-old high school sophomore, when asked how he knows where to sit when he enters his counselor’s office, responded, “I know where to sit because my chair is in front of the desk and the counselor's chair is behind the desk facing the computer.” He added that he need not to be told where to sit because he simply knows. When asked what it would mean to sit in the counselor’s chair, the 15-year-old without hesitation said, “empowered.”
When asked the same questions, an 18-year-old senior indicated he too knows where to sit based on how the office is set up but indicated he would feel “weird and out of place” instead of empowered if he were to sit in the counselor's chair. The aha moment is realizing how students are not the center, yet how educators are self-centered within the educational process. Students know their place and have been conditioned in knowing where to sit, and counselors have positioned themselves to be at the helm when conducting a counseling appointment.
One may question whether the counselor needs to be behind the desk and facing the computer and whether students could be allowed to sit in the “I made it” chair. Offices may not need to be designed with a hierarchical framework; perhaps offices could be designed with the students at the center and with counselors as more of a facilitator rather than the expert. Additionally, one might consider that having the students sit in the “I made it” chair provides them the ability to visualize their future by building on the behaviors, motivation, and choices geared to produce desired outcomes.
Students who are allowed to sit in the “I made it” chair have the potential to increase how they view their future success and generate a feeling of elation and belief in themselves. Doing so will potentially give students the additional drive to explore other career, academic, and personal opportunities they may not have considered. It could potentially help students develop emotional intelligence skills and provide them with the spark to feel in control of other aspects of their lives. The possibilities are endless, and counselors need to be vulnerable enough to allow their students to be in the driver's seat to navigate their future selves.
In addition to students developing a deeper sense of self, redefining the “I made it” chair can support new and innovative designs for office space, buildings, and academic centers. Offices would no longer have large and clunky desks impeding collaboration between two or more people or contributing to the hierarchical nature of office politics. Technology could be designed to allow fluidity and more creativity when serving students. Such design could be the spark to reconsider how classroom spaces are arranged and how inside and outside spaces are combined more effectively. Student academic centers could help expand their educational activities to integrate more collaboration among staff, community members, faculty, and administrators. The “I made it” chair has the potential to impact practices within industries outside of education. For example, companies might use this concept to implement innovative and equitable hiring practices or change the ways they provide internship and work experience opportunities. This concept could encourage minoritized populations to pursue career industries where they are least represented because they now have the opportunity to sit in the “I made it” chair.
Educational outcomes data for students seeking an undergraduate degree or certificate has remained relatively flat for years (National Center for Education Statistics, 2021). Educators have not even scratched the surface of addressing or collecting qualitative information from their students and the curricular practices impacting their students, particularly minoritized students. Many factors, variables, and interpretations impact the data; however, educators may want to consider how their approach to serving students has remained stagnant for years. For example, one might ask why so many African-American student athletes major in social sciences. Sanders and Hildenbrand (2010) suggest the answer is based on how African-American student athletes are matriculated. Clustering of student athletes, especially African Americans, in particular majors has occurred for years. Using the “I made it” chair may assist African-American student athletes to visualize other avenues of success. Educators may also find other patterns they can help students uncover through the “I made it” chair because it creates an opportunity to visualize success.
Gorbis, M. (2018, March 11). Five Principles for Thinking Like a Futurist. Educause Review, https://er.educause.edu/articles/2019/3/five-principles-for-thinking-like-a-futurist
National Center for Education Statistics. (2021). Trend Generator. https://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/TrendGenerator/app/answer/12/200
Sanders, J. P., & Hildenbrand, K. (2010). Major concerns? A longitudinal analysis of student-athletes academic majors in comparative perspective. Journal of Intercollegiate Sport, 3(2), 213-233.
How the Pandemic Impacted Noncredit Students
The COVID-19 pandemic prompted nearly all people to rethink their livelihood as the economy was rapidly redeveloping. The pandemic caused many people to lose their income, their businesses, their education, and their homes. In October 2020, 176,000 workers were unemployed due to COVID-19 impacts in the San Diego region (Saunders, 2020). Many people desired to go back to school to advance their careers or to learn a new skill for a pandemic-proof job.
While colleges and universities across the country experienced a steep decline in enrollment as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, community colleges were hit hardest with some noncredit colleges losing more than half of their student populations. As of November 2022, the California Community Colleges system, with an enrollment as high as 2.8 million in 2009, was the largest system of higher education in the country. However, its student count dropped to 1.8 million in 2022. The biggest enrollment drop was among new students who enrolled during the first year of the pandemic, when courses and services were all online. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, course withdrawals increased by 55% across the community college system during spring 2020 as Covid shuttered campuses (Burke, et. al., 2022).
San Diego College of Continuing Education (SDCCE) offers an example of the ways noncredit instruction persevered and continued to serve students through the pandemic. SDCCE is one of the largest noncredit institutions in California and a leading provider of free workforce training and classes in the California Community Colleges system. SDCCE’s adult students are among the most vulnerable populations in the state, including first generation, low-income, formerly justice-involved, dreamers, military veterans, and underrepresented students. The college offers thousands of free career certificate programs and classes in priority workforce sectors including healthcare, information technology, and skilled trades. Upon certificate completion, students are prepared to enter good paying jobs.
COVID-19 prompted every college to shut down in-person services and move to remote instruction. For example, in spring 2020, SDCCE was forced to rapidly move more than 1,000 hard-to-transition workforce training programs and basic skills classes online. Welding students were reading blueprints online to perform metal welds, and healthcare students were remotely preparing to care for patients using medical equipment and manikins at home. While online education was the key to their success to survive a global pandemic, it did not come easy. Many students persevered through hardship, but others had to remove themselves from their education due to unforeseen circumstances.
Students faced multiple challenges and obstacles in transitioning to online instruction, including access to computers and the internet. Administrators and educators opened their eyes to never before seen barriers: students would sit outside of fast-food restaurants to connect to Wi-Fi, or students chose between going to class and working a second job to buy food and pay their rent. To respond to this situation, SDCCE distributed hundreds of free laptops to adult students who needed support to access and complete remote and online classes and programs. Providing laptops allows for mobile learning, increases student remote and online engagement and retention, and thus leads to increased completion rates. SDCCE also supplied resources to provide internet access to students.
The state of emergency nationalized the long-standing need for more support of noncredit instruction inside and beyond the classroom. The bottom line quickly became how to teach adult students outside of the classroom and online and how to meet their basic needs. More than ever, schools became a haven for more than just education and workforce training. Students began turning to their schools for food, housing, and financial support. Many adult learners in noncredit programs are returning to school after years of being away from the classroom, and they are back because the traditional education system failed them in one way or another. Colleges simply cannot fail them again. All institutions must continue to address specific and critical needs beyond the classroom. And now, during this pandemic, they must offer students the final key that has been missing: an opportunity for fully online learning with the wrap-around support they need to complete comprehensive academic programs.
Danielle Nadeu is an example of a student who persevered and succeeded through the pandemic. Like many San Diego residents looking to upskill, Nadeu, an SDCCE student and an information technology (IT) manager, looked forward to being inside SDCCE’s lab classrooms but adapted to the change. SDCCE’s IT certificates are taught through an online classroom equipped with free integrated software and textbooks. Remote learning provided Nadeu with unique opportunities: recorded lectures, virtual operating machines, and free computer software. Nadeu has been working her way up the IT industry for years, a career she did not know existed as a Boston University humanities graduate. After completing the Cisco Certified Networking Associate certificate and Security Essentials certificate at SDCCE, she was offered a temporary contract through LinkedIn with Bristol Myers Squibb, a global biopharmaceutical company. Six months into her contract, Bristol Myers hired Nadeu full time as a laboratory operations systems manager.
Whereas IT classes for students like Nadeu could be presented remotely, students in hospitality and culinary arts classes needed access to hands-on learning materials. Due to barriers faced in online learning, SDCCE’s hospitality and culinary arts department hosted weekly ingredient distributions during the COVID-19 pandemic to provide students with essential food items and spices required to participate in the culinary labs. It was the only way to continue offering the culinary arts certificate program during the pandemic. It was the equitable thing to do; items like lobster and saffron are expensive.
The experience of Sarah Ramos shows how access to classroom supplies during the pandemic was also essential for students to continue their educations and launch their careers. Before achieving a
culinary arts certificate at SDCCE, Ramos worked in human resources for two decades. Following her education at SDCCE, Ramos is now a pastry chef de partie for San Diego’s three Michelin Star fine-dining restaurant, Addison.
Like many other institutions, SDCCE kept its doors open virtually through the global pandemic. SDCCE employees had to determine how to serve the state’s most vulnerable populations, many of whom do not speak English as their first language and have never been in an online classroom environment. Noncredit education reaches adult students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, especially those who lack resources or support to go to school, and can help them achieve a professional certificate in an online environment.
SDCCE and other colleges will continue to provide noncredit career education and other programs at no cost. Most career training programs have returned to on-campus instruction, and, due to demand for online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, many classes have changed to fully online or hybrid modes of instruction. The need for basic needs resources has increased monumentally, and the mode of delivery has also changed.
Career education remains one of the most valuable investments a person can work toward, as specialized and relevant training prepares graduates for life-changing employment opportunities in today's priority workforce sectors. Other higher education institutions can benefit from online learning as long as they are willing to adapt to meet the needs of the students and are able to allocate funding and resources toward basic needs services.
Burke, M., Willis, D., & Truong, D. (2022, Nov. 18). California community colleges eye a different future amid pandemic disruption. Edsource. https://edsource.org/2022/california-community-colleges-eye-a-different-future-amid-pandemic-disruption/681483
Saunders, M. (2020, Oct. 15). San Diego economy to lose $12.4 billion this year due to pandemic. ABC10 News San Diego, https://www.10news.com/news/local-news/san-diego-economy-to-lose-12-4-billion-this-year-due-to-pandemic
Disciplines List Revision Process and Proposals
Updates to the Minimum Qualifications for Faculty and Administrators in California Community Colleges occur through the Disciplines List Revision Process that is facilitated by the Standards and Practices Committee on behalf of the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC). New disciplines may be proposed, or revisions may be proposed to existing disciplines. Starting each February, the disciplines list revision process extends into the next year, with submission due by September 30 and then numerous steps that result in successful proposals being forwarded to the Board of Governors for approval the following July.
Disciplines List Revision Process Summary
Initial proposals are submitted to the ASCCC office and include information on the nature of the proposed changes, rationale and supporting evidence of statewide need for the updates, an explanation of the impact of the proposal with pros and cons, and documentation that degrees satisfying the minimum qualifications in the proposal are available from accredited institutions. Proposals must also include the signature of either a college academic senate president or the president of a discipline-related professional organization and a discipline seconder from another district.
The full process can be briefly outlined as follows:
- February: Disciplines list process distributed to all colleges;
- September: Proposals due by September 30;
- October: Proposals disseminated to colleges and discussed at Area meetings;
- November: First disciplines list hearing at fall plenary session;
- January/February: ASCCC Executive Committee confirms that process was followed and that sufficient evidence exists for the proposal to be debated at plenary session;
- March: Discussion at Area meetings;
- April: Second disciplines list hearing at spring plenary session and vote at the plenary session on proposals via the resolutions process;
- July: Submission to Board of Governors for approval, with approved updates reflected in a new version of the Minimum Qualifications for Faculty and Administrators in California Community Colleges that is distributed by the Chancellor’s Office.
Disciplines list hearings occur during fall and spring plenary sessions and are open to the public. One need not be a registered attendee of the plenary session to participate in the discipline list hearings by listening, asking questions, and providing testimony on proposed disciplines. Testimony either in support or opposition from the first hearing is recorded and included as information for the second hearing. Testimony may be from individuals or given as representatives of other bodies, such as academic senates, departments, and professional organizations. The initiator of the proposal or an informed designee must be present at each hearing where the proposal is considered.
Changes to proposals may occur after feedback from the first hearing but must appear in final form for a second hearing prior to being forwarded to the plenary session for debate and possible adoption via the resolutions process. Disciplines list resolutions have a standard form and may only be adopted or rejected as presented at the plenary session; no amendments are allowed as part of this special process.
Proposed Disciplines List Revision—Ethnic Studies
The 2022-2023 cycle has raised a single proposal for a disciplines list revision in Ethnic Studies. The proposal was received in September and verified for completeness before being forwarded for discussion at the fall area meetings. Its first hearing occurred during the 2022 Fall Plenary Session. In January, the ASCCC Executive Committee confirmed that the process had been followed and that sufficient evidence exists for the proposal to be debated by the body. The proposed change to the Ethnic Studies discipline would read as follows:
Master’s in African American Studies, Black Studies, Africana Studies, Latino Studies, La Raza Studies, Chicana/o Studies, Asian American Studies, Native American Studies, or American Indian Studies
Master’s in Ethnic Studies
OR the equivalent
The proposal summary that includes testimony from the first hearing will be distributed to colleges and discussed at the spring area meetings and is available on the 2023 Spring Plenary Session event page. The second public hearing will occur at the 2023 Spring Plenary Session, where clarifying questions can be answered. A resolution for the revision to the Ethnic Studies discipline will be considered during the resolutions process and may only be adopted or rejected; no amendments are allowed as part of this process. If adopted at the plenary session, the proposal will be sent to the Board of Governors for final approval, usually during its July meeting.
An announcement for proposals for the 2023-2024 disciplines list cycle will be distributed in February, with proposals due by September 30, 2023, and information is also available on the ASCCC Disciplines List website.
The Zero Textbook Cost Program: An Update
The state of California has long recognized the value of open educational resources (OER) and zero textbook cost (ZTC) degrees in the California Community Colleges system. By funding the 2016 ZTC Degree Grant Program, the ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative, and the 2022 ZTC Program, the governor and the legislature have made it clear that OER and ZTC are ongoing priorities.
The ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative (OERI) was created through funds allocated by the state to serve as a faculty-led, student-centered effort to increase OER availability and adoption. The OERI is uniquely positioned to support faculty and colleges with establishing ZTC degrees. As part of the ASCCC, the OERI has benefitted from existing mechanisms for communicating with faculty across the system and established a system of OER liaisons across the state to ensure two-way communication between the OERI and colleges. This network has been used to share information and professional development opportunities regarding OER and now the current ZTC Program.
In 2016, the state allocated $5 million to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) to establish the ZTC Degree Grant Program. Thirty-one of the state’s 114 accredited degree-granting colleges at the time — approximately 27% —received funds from the ZTC Degree Grant. Of these colleges, eight received only a planning grant of up to $35,000. Thirteen received one implementation grant of up to $150,000. Nine of the remaining colleges received both types of grants and one received two implementation grants. In addition, San Diego Continuing Education received a planning grant and two implementation grants. Under the ZTC Degree Grant Program, nothing was done to prevent duplication between or among college efforts, and no structures were established to ensure accountability. In addition, neither expansion nor sustainability was encouraged or required.
In the summer of 2021, the California Legislature designated $115 million to expand ZTC degrees in the California Community Colleges system. While elements of the language of the legislation are unclear and introduce definitions that conflict with conventional definitions of OER and ZTC, colleges should collaborate to ensure that these funds are spent responsibly with an emphasis on growing the availability of no-cost course sections across the state and an expectation that the work of the colleges will be shared. Specifically, Education Code §78052 references preventing duplication and ensuring sustainability and collaboration. To date, no efforts have been made by the CCCCO to seek input from colleges on how to implement the ZTC Program to best ensure collaboration and sustainability, and has only asked - through completion of a form in the NOVA system - for “Assurances” from a college representative as a means of ensuring accountability for the funds that have been provided to the colleges (e.g., “I have read and am familiar with the ZTC Program requirements listed in Education Code Sections 78050 through 78052 and agree to all the program requirements stipulated).
Of further concern is the timeline of awarding the funding so that colleges might implement ZTC programs to secure a timely benefit for students. California Education Code §78052 (j) specifies that "The chancellor’s office shall award an initial round of grants no later than January 1 of a fiscal year for which the funds are appropriated." While the legislation required that an initial round of funding occur by January 1, 2022, the CCCCO did not act or announce anything until July. On July 29, 2022, a "Zero Textbook Cost Program - Overview and Guidance" memo was distributed. This memo presented a brief background of ZTC in the colleges, recognized the ASCCC-proposed section-level data element as a critical component of tracking instructional materials costs, stated the CCCCO’s intent to convene a ZTC Taskforce, and announced that a Phase 1 of grants will provide $20,000 to colleges to "begin the development of a ZTC program" (CCCCO, 2022). It also referenced a competitive Phase 2 of funding.
Until February 23, 2023 the CCCCO had not published additional official communications about the ZTC Program since the distribution of the memo. As a result, colleges received the Phase 1 funds with no formal guidance. Guidance was provided informally via CCCCO office hours through December of 2022, but absent formal documentation colleges are uncertain as to what they can expect from the CCCCO and what the CCCCO will expect from the colleges. Additional developments since the July memo are as follows:
- The "ZTC Taskforce" referenced in the July 2022 memo was renamed, as it is not explicitly about the ZTC Program.
- Presentations and informal communications indicated that the process for obtaining Phase 2 funds would be initiated in October of 2022.
- Presentations and informal communications indicated that a Phase 3 of funding would be made available in Spring 2023. Phase 3 would be $180,000 per college to implement a ZTC pathway specified in the Phase 1 plan.
Questions from faculty and colleges and the lack of comprehensive documentation prompted the OERI to develop the "Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) Program Overview: What We Think We Know" (OERI, 2022), compiling all available information. A year after the ZTC Program was to be initiated (i.e., January 1, 2022), all degree-granting colleges have received $20,000 to develop a plan. On February 23, 2023, a 2nd memo regarding the ZTC Program (Zero Textbook Cost Program Updates) was distributed that established the following (please note the following was copied directly from the memo):
- Colleges will need to review the ZTC program assurances and complete their certification in NOVA by March 31, 2023.
- In March 2023, 115 colleges will receive an additional $180,000 through district apportionment to design, develop and pilot a ZTC degree offering. Using the NOVA platform, colleges will need to submit a workplan by October 2023 and complete implementation and reporting by December 2024. The Chancellor’s Office will communicate to all colleges and districts the availability of the workplan in NOVA.
- What was formally known as Phase 2 will be titled “ZTC Acceleration Grants” going forward. They are competitive grants and intend to support the acceleration in development and implementation of ZTC degree programs by those colleges and/or districts that are ready. Interested colleges and/or districts will apply by responding to the Chancellor’s Office’s Request for Applications (RFA). Applicants will provide details about their proposed ZTC program(s) and self-assessments of their institutions’ capacity to support that effort. The RFA will be released in Fall 2023, and awardees may receive up to $200,000 for each degree development and implemented. The application, review, and selection timeline will be articulated at the time of the formal release of the RFA.
The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges has adopted a long list of positions regarding what should happen with the ZTC funds (OERI n.d.b). These positions emphasize the importance of ensuring implementation is consistent with the legislation (Resolution 3.03 S22), call on the CCCCO to consult and partner with the ASCCC in designing the implementation of the ZTC Program (Resolution 7.04 F22), encourage local academic senates to work with their administrative colleagues to use a portion of the ZTC funds to support a faculty coordinator who leads the college’s OER and ZTC efforts (Resolution 17.03 F22), oppose the use of mechanisms to achieve zero-textbook-costs that are not sustainable (Resolution 3.03 S22), and advocate for transparency (Resolution 13.10 S22) to ensure that the ZTC program’s benefits for students and the state are maximized. While discussions of ZTC are often blended with OER, ASCCC Resolution 3.05 F21 acknowledges that not all courses can achieve ZTC status with OER and advocates for the use of a variety of mechanisms to reduce course costs for students. 
Despite the stated concerns about timelines, lack of specifics, and failure to seek input from the field, the ASCCC and the OERI will continue to advocate for its effective implementation, focusing on sustainability, maximizing impact, and meeting the needs of both faculty and students.
California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. (2022, July 29). Zero Textbook Cost Program – Overview and Guidance. https://asccc-oeri.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/08/memo-ess-22-100-005-ztc-program-overview-and-guidance-a11y.pdf
California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. (2023, February 23). Zero Textbook Cost Program Updates. https://asccc-oeri.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/02/Memo_ESS-23-04_ZTC.pdf
Open Educational Resources Initiative. (2022, September 26). Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) Program Overview: What We Think We Know. Academic Senate for California Community Colleges. https://asccc-oeri.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/ZTC-Program-Overview-OERI-Compiled-Information-and-FAQs-FINAL.pdf
Open Educational Resources Initiative. (n.d.a). ZTC Phase 1 in NOVA. Academic Senate for California Community Colleges.https://asccc-oeri.org/ztc-phase-1-in-nova/
Open Educational Resources Initiative. (n.d.b). OER-Related ASCCC Resolutions. Academic Senate for California Community Colleges>. https://asccc-oeri.org/asccc-resolutions/
1. The text of all ASCCC resolutions is available at https://www.asccc.org/resources/resolutions.
Demystifying the Narrative of Noncredit Education: San Diego College of Continuing Education Student Stories
Every adult student can benefit from noncredit education. Free education does not mean low quality, and it certainly does not mean one size fits all. San Diego College of Continuing Education (SDCCE) offers a model for successful, comprehensive noncredit education.
At SDCCE, students from all walks of life are reentering the workforce, preparing to enter good paying jobs or getting ready to transition to college through tuition-free noncredit certificate programs and classes. SDCCE serves large populations of students who are among the most vulnerable adult populations in the state, including first generation, low-income, formerly justice-involved, dreamers, military veterans, and underrepresented students. Noncredit education can make the difference between permanent housing insecurity or food insecurity and upward mobility and generational change. Many students achieve a high school diploma or career training certificate at SDCCE and then transition to a California community college.
Noncredit education is a valuable tool for workforce training, benefitting both students and industry. SDCCE’s free career training programs include areas within priority workforce sectors such as automotive, skilled and technical trades, business and accounting, digital media, information technology, healthcare, child development, clothing and textiles, culinary arts, and hospitality. Many middle-skills jobs require more education or training than a high school diploma but less than a four-year college degree. 39% (678,770) of the 1.7 million jobs (1,737,766) jobs in San Diego and Imperial Counties in 2020 were middle-skill.
Following the COVID-19 recession, and with attrition rates rising across manual labor industries, businesses are eager to hire skilled professionals as soon as possible. At SDCCE, classrooms mirror manual labor industries to look like an auto shop, welding yard, industrial kitchen, or hospital for a hands-on learning experience. Students also work in clinicals, pre-apprenticeships, and internships. After certification completion within four to eight months, students are ready for employment or can transition to college.
Stan Gerberg, 36, is an example of the success of noncredit career training programs. Gerberg enrolled in SDCCE’s automotive program after attending engineering classes at San Diego State University. He completed SDCCE’s auto technician certificate in nine months and since then has become a master technician for BMW and currently works for Audi San Diego.
In addition to helping students enter and advance in the workforce, noncredit education can help students learn English, earn their high school diplomas, and gain citizenship in the United States. Additional free courses at SDCCE include high school diploma/equivalency, English as a second language, and citizenship.
Noncredit students typically come from significantly more diverse and socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. They often require more specialized and extensive student services and supplemental financial support. SDCCE students face significant financial barriers, with 41% reporting an annual income of $2,999 or less, more than 50% below the federal poverty threshold. In addition to financial barriers, many SDCCE students face cultural challenges and language barriers as they assimilate in a country to which they came primarily as immigrants or refugees. In 2019, 24% percent of SDCCE students were non-U.S. citizens and thirty-one percent reported a main language other than English.
More than half of the population of 30,000 students at SDCCE identifies as immigrant based. Students with Hispanic and Latinx roots comprise about one-third of the institution’s population, the largest group of students served. Free English as a second language, citizenship, and high school diploma/equivalency courses are helping immigrants and refugees increase their earnings and apply for college. ESL classes are offered in person and online and teach conversation, pronunciation, reading, and grammar. Students can study general English, English and job search preparation, English and workplace communication, English and citizenship, and English for parents.
SDCCE prepares students to take part in the United States Naturalization Ceremony through a free citizenship program. Students focus on the development of English language skills and American history and government. Adult learners are prepared to complete the citizenship application, the citizenship history and government test, and the final US citizenship and immigration services interview.
The free high school diploma/equivalency program at SDCCE is designed for adult learners who have left the traditional education system or who never had the opportunity to pursue their diplomas. Students that need to finish as little as two credits or as many as two years of high school can enroll in the accelerated high school program at any time. They start classes at the beginning of a new six-week session. Each semester at SDCCE is broken into three six-week sessions. A traditional semester is 18 weeks, but that length seems to result in a higher attrition rate in adult education. On the other hand, students succeed because they like the structure of a definitive six weeks. They know when they will graduate. Additionally, SDCCE offers high school diploma/equivalency courses in Spanish.
Classes are offered at no cost to students, as SDCCE is one of the 116 colleges within the California Community Colleges system. Funding also comes through business and industry partnerships. Unlike students at colleges and universities, SDCCE students are not eligible for federal financial aid. Although classes are provided free, SDCCE understands large populations of enrolled students face basic needs barriers, which prevent them from being successful in the classroom. Without access to help, many students are unable to reach upward mobility.
Once enrolled at SDCCE, students have access to SDCCE CARES (Commitment to Accessible Resources for Educational Support), a comprehensive basic needs program designed to help students meet fundamental needs of food, housing, transportation, childcare, and mental wellness. Students are connected to accessible and timely resources to support them while they complete their educational goals. In addition to basic needs supports, scholarships and awards are offered to students through the SDCCE Foundation. Fundraising is supported through donations by faculty, staff, administrators, and community partnerships. Students are awarded scholarships and grants annually, many with plans to transition to a career or college following their studies at SDCCE based on academic merit, leadership, and service to the community. SDCCE students are also eligible for the San Diego Promise scholarship, which provides funding for two years of community college education, including book grants. SDCCE is the only noncredit college in the nation that provides pathways for adult students to enroll in a promise program.
The experience of Aurora Alvarez demonstrates how noncredit education serves immigrant and other diverse adult learner populations. Alvarez enrolled in ESL classes eight years ago at SDCCE after moving with her son to San Diego from Mexico. When Alvarez arrived in the United States, she was determined to learn English but never thought she would be able to pursue education again. Returning to the classroom more than 20 years later at SDCCE, Alvarez excelled in her studies, completing beginner and advanced levels of ESL and two business certificate programs. Alvarez was awarded a San Diego Promise scholarship, which she used to transition to San Diego City College.
Noncredit education is becoming a top choice among traditional colleges and universities for high school students, professionals returning to the workforce, and immigrants. To continue to demystify the narrative around noncredit education, colleges must act at every level. Increasing California Adult Education Program and Strong Workforce and Perkins funding is specifically critical to support noncredit program development and expansion.
While SDCCE is adequately transitioning students toward the workforce and college, more work needs to be done. Noncredit education can be included in guided pathways across high schools, colleges, and universities. Aligning noncredit education across educational segments creates opportunities for successful career exploration, transition, placement, and workforce training. Critical additional funding can be allocated toward basic needs, resources, and scholarships.
In Memoriam: Rich Hansen
In January of 2023, the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges lost a strong ally and a dear friend with the passing of Rich Hansen. Rich was a long-time faculty member at De Anza College and served as the president of the Foothill-De Anza Faculty Association, as statewide president of the California Community College Independent unions, as a member of the board of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC), and in various other leadership roles. Although he never held a formal leadership position with the ASCCC, Rich was one of the ASCCC appointees to the 2011 Board of Governors Student Success Task Force and was for many years one of the primary resources to which ASCCC presidents would turn for input and advice regarding union issues and senate-union relations.
Both of the authors of this article worked closely with Rich Hansen in a variety of contexts over a number of years. We would therefore like to offer our individual reflections on Rich’s career and his importance to the faculty of the California Community Colleges system.
Rich was the first person I met from our local district union when I was hired full-time at Foothill in 2000. He made a point of coming to our new faculty orientation to talk about what the union did and what FACCC did, as he was already involved at the state level. As I became local senate vice president and then president, and later served as district senate president, Rich was always available to talk through matters and provide a union perspective, as well as make sure that the academic senate’s positions were respected and listened to. When I was a new senate president, more than once Rich pulled me aside during a board meeting to let me know I should probably speak up about an issue, for which I was grateful and humbled, especially when I found out that other senates did not have a close working relationship with their unions.
After I began my statewide service with the ASCCC, Rich was one of the first people to congratulate me. He continued to be an advocate for the academic senate’s view and a tremendous ally for the ASCCC. He served on the part-time task force in the year that the task force transitioned to a committee and was instrumental in ensuring that the Rostrum articles and other work we were doing walked the fine line between senate and union issues. He and I bonded over our love of history—his undergraduate degree, before he decided to become a mathematician—and good wine, and I ran into him more than once while wine tasting in the Santa Cruz mountains. I never heard Rich raise his voice, not even at the most contentious of meetings, because Rich did not have to speak loudly to be heard. The reason for this was simple: when he had something to say, whether at a board meeting or Consultation Council or anywhere else, people stopped and listened, because they recognized that this was a man who had the best interests of students at heart and was a genuinely good person. His wisdom, generosity, kindness, and knowledge will be missed, but never forgotten.
I first met Rich when we served together on the 2011 Student Success Task Force. His presence on that body was immensely important: in a situation in which faculty were outnumbered by task force members from outside the system who frequently did not even grasp the impact of the changes they wanted to recommend, Rich was unfailingly calm and reasonable but unrelentingly steadfast in expressing and maintaining faculty perspectives. Watching Rich in that environment helped to teach me how to represent faculty with dignity and without becoming overly emotional but also without compromising our values, and it had a huge impact on my development as a leader.
When I became a member of the ASCCC Executive Committee and later ASCCC president, I frequently consulted with Rich regarding union matters and perspectives. On several occasions, he checked sections of ASCCC papers and articles to ensure that what we wrote would be understood and well-received by our union colleagues. I later served with Rich on the FACCC Board of Governors, where once again his measured and reasonable approach helped me to understand an entirely new set of issues. He was unfailingly fair, professional, and collegial, and all faculty in the community college system owe him a great debt.
In this article we have both related our individual memories of working with Rich Hansen, but we do so because we know that our experiences with Rich were representative, not unique. Rich influenced, mentored, and inspired countless faculty members in his district and throughout the state over the course of his career, and his absence will be felt by a great many of us. On behalf of the ASCCC, and with tremendous sadness but great appreciation for the privilege of having known and worked with him, we offer our condolences to Rich’s colleagues at De Anza, the Foothill-De Anza district, and to his family.