Current Editorial: AB 955: proceed with caution

Current Staff

At semester’s start, seats are filled in most general education courses. Students who don’t make it in are waitlisted. This happens too often.
Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 995 on Thursday in a step toward alleviating the problem of overcrowding in community colleges.

AB 955 allows select community colleges to participate in a pilot program that will offer additional high-demand courses at the non-resident rate of about $200 per unit during summer and winter intersessions.

Although American River College is currently not a participating school, it would be prudent to pay attention to what happens at the schools where the program will be tested.

The schools that will offer the additional classes will only be those schools that are having trouble meeting the class demands of their students due to funding restrictions; ARC has that exact problem.

If schools choose to participate, students may still elect to take all of their classes during the fall and spring semesters. They will not be forced to take the higher-priced intersession courses, and the bill specifically stipulates that community colleges cannot reduce the number of state-subsidized classes normally offered during those semesters.

Students who want to fulfill their requirements and graduate early may be excited to take additional intersession classes, even if it means paying more. Because those students would otherwise take a spot in a regular class, classrooms may be significantly less crowded, and fewer students will be waitlisted.

On the other hand, there is the possibility students will not sign up for these courses at all. Students may not be willing to pay the extra cost, even if doing so might allow them to graduate earlier.

The bill is a good start, but considering many community college students choose community college because it is the most economically viable option, there is concern that not enough students will choose the added intersession classes to keep the program self-sustaining.

Essentially, most of us will be waiting for a few desperate suckers willing to pay for that one last class needed for graduation. We need their money to pay for their intersession spots to free up our fall and spring spots. That is simply dumping the problem of overcrowding onto the students’ heads.

While it is an attempt to solve the gargantuan problem of overcrowding, the state still has more work to do to ensure fair and affordable education for its residents.