Thursday, August 27, 2009

Back to school

The first week of classes is over for me. The classrooms are bursting, and I hate turning away folks. The sad truth is that our budget doesn't allow us to take more students. They ask me, "Don't you want our money?" A perfectly valid question. Here's the answer: the student fees don't pay all of our bills. Despite the fact that the cost of the community colleges in California went up by 30% this semester, it means they're still only paying $26 per credit. It's the best deal in higher education. However, it doesn't generate enough revenue to pay for salaries and utilities and facilities and equipment and so on. That's where the State comes in, but they haven't been so good about paying recently. In addition, the State puts a cap on how many students they will fund. If we go over that cap, we actually LOSE money.

At the start of the week, in our three-college district, there were 11,000 people on waitlists.

In other years, I would allow more people into my classes, but we're in danger of not being able to afford to offer summer classes at this point, because the State LOWERED the cap this year while enrollments are growing. We have already cut about 10% of our course offerings. The good news is that enrollment is also UP about 10%... the courses we are offering are full. It's a good feeling to know that we are serving more students, but it's an awful feeling to know that we aren't serving ALL who want an education.

Most students have been handling the stress well, but there have been some incidents of frustration that required police involvement. Nothing in my department, though... hopefully that trend will hold through next week, as next Friday is the last day that students can add classes. But think about that, will you? People desperate for an education being turned away. Go celebrate that you got Cash for your Clunker... the rest of us are dealing with a very sad reality that will have repercussions extending far into the future.

7 comments:

hagdirt said...

What kills me is not that we're losing things now, is that we're losing opportunities for the future. It's not just a matter of surviving until the upturn; now we have to figure out how to undo the damage.

aaronjv said...

Here in Los Angeles, the city has given up on 250 schools, turning them over to the highest (corporate?) bidders.

However, maybe they can do a better job?

Want to run a school?

Good luck and have fun with those you do have! I hope they (the students) realize how lucky they are.

Dr. Lisa said...

I'm afraid the damage will get even worse with the current K-12 plans. There are going to be more charter schools state-wide, and based on my experience with students from them in AZ, that's a very bad decision.

Rachel said...

If I can (oddly, for me) provide the voice of a cynic, although I am sure that the majority of those seeking college enrollment do want an education, part of me is wondering how many are just hoping to get student loans because they can't get a job in this economy....

Other than that, I am in total agreement that the educational system is being decimated, and this will have long-term negative repercussions on our society as a whole.

Dr. Lisa said...

Oddly, I've heard fewer people this semester discuss getting financial aid. At one point in the budget crisis, there was talk of ELIMINATING the CalGrant program. That would have kept me from attending UCLA had that happened all those years ago.

Therrin said...

That's just awful. I'm seeing some of the same here, but nowhere near as bad, and I'm rather insulated from it. The entire system is just broken right now, and I'm not sure how we can fix it.

Dr. Lisa said...

Fixing the system may well involve higher taxes. California spends less per pupil than the national average.

The dropout rate in California above the national average.

The number of students in poverty is above the national average.

The student-to-teacher ratio is higher than the national average. Etc...