New bill would allow B.A. degrees in California community colleges

A bill introduced early this year to the California Senate could make California community colleges eligible to offer bachelor’s degrees.

Senate Bill 850, sponsored by Marty Block (D-San Diego) would allow the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges to authorize an eight year pilot program for one baccalaureate degree per campus per district chosen by the Chancellor.

“The 21st century work field progressively demands a need for higher education and the demand for education beyond the community college level however, is not currently being met by California’s four-year institutions in certain fields,” reads the bill.

The bill says that in order for California to remain “economically competitive” in the future, the states needs to produce one million more bachelor’s degrees in the next few decades.

“I think it would be good, a lot of people come here because they can’t afford the bigger universities, so having a four year here would be better because its less money, less travel and less expenses,” said Samantha Bratvold an early childhood education major.

Some students feel that American River College is as qualified as other schools and is held at the same morale as other universities.

“I love it. It sounds like an awesome idea; this school should be just as accredited as any other school. Students try actually; in my opinion, even harder than they do at some four year universities,” said Aaron Padilla a micro-biologist major.

ARC counselor Jennifer Scalzi said that while she doesn’t know all the specifics of the bill she suspects that community colleges would not offer the more academic degrees offered in other schools.

“I don’t think you would see us open up a lot of the bachelor’s that are offered in the four year degree,” said Scalzi.

A section in the bill makes it clear that it does not want to “duplicate similar programs offered by nearby public postsecondary educational institutions.”

Scalzi said this bill would more likely affect the more vocational training programs on campus.

“ARC is very progressive in the way of thinking, I suspect it would be more vocational bachelors (offered), ARC is set up to continue those programs,” said Scalzi.

Vocational education is defined by the National Center for Educational Statistics as being “organized educational programs offering a sequence of courses which are directly related to the preparation of individuals in paid or unpaid employment in current or emerging occupations.”

James Comstock a student getting a certificate in auto technology, a vocational program, said that although he is close to receiving his certificate soon “it would be a great idea,” and hoped that the bill passed and ARC “offer (four year degrees) in the future.”

The bill has gathered support throughout California and many community college students from around the state held signs in support of SB 850 at the annual March in March at the Capitol.

SB 850 is set for hearing by the Senate Education Committee on March 19.