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Editorial: Offering bachelor’s degrees at community colleges is the right decision

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Numerous bills that have passed through the Senate and Legislature are waiting on Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk at this moment for his signature and it’s time that one of them, Senate Bill 850, be signed into law.

SB 850 is the long debated initiative that allows the California Community Colleges Chancellor to start an eight-year pilot program at one campus per district, allowing that one campus to offer one bachelor’s degrees, according to the California Legislative Information website.

This would allow select colleges to offer a degree in a profession, such as nursing, in the region that are in need of qualified personnel. SB 850 is the long talked about and debated initiative that would bring bachelor’s degrees to community colleges allowing more qualified individuals into professions that are lacking qualified personal.

While California might be bouncing back economically, there are areas in which we need to expand in order to remain economically competitive going forward. The state needs to produce 1one million more baccalaureate degrees than they do currently in order to remain competitive for decades to come, according to the California Legislative Information website.

With the California State University and University of California systems already impacted it is foolish to expect them to churn out even more bachelor’s degrees in the coming years. Community colleges are the logical and viable solution to the issue at hand.

Opponents claim that the bill will diverge from the California Master Plan for Higher Education’s separation of the three levels of college, which Gov. Brown’s father, Gov. Pat Brown, helped create.

That’s a good thing.

The plan, implemented in 1960, shouldn’t be used as a shackle for the education system of today. The needs of students and the state are far different now than they were then.

SB 850 doesn’t encroach on the territory of the CSU and UC. Community colleges won’t be offering bachelor degrees for every single subject the campus offers.

The bill allows the California Community Colleges Chancellor to start an eight-year pilot program at one campus per district, allowing that one campus to offer bachelor degrees, according to the California Legislative Information website.

Twenty-one other states already offer bachelor’s degrees through their community colleges and their universities haven’t become obsolete or run into trouble giving out degrees.

Others argue that finding the money to offer the bachelor’s degree and qualified staff to teach  to the subjects would prove problematic.

Money isn’t growing on trees for new programs, that much is true, but where there is a will there is a way. That is the reason why it is a pilot program and not spread out to all the campuses at once.

The results of the pilot program will determine where the system will go in the future. If funding proves to be an issue, it’s a hurdle that students and administrators will deal with when the time comes.

Benefits of offering degrees in a time where going to a four-year college is proving to be harder and harder for the average student, with the cost and the average amount of debt a student will leave with along with how crowded many schools have become, far outweigh any of the possible what if’s that opponents of the bill have offered.

Let’s not hold up a plan from fifty years ago as the only way that the schools can be, and let’s push for what is best for our students.

It’s time to stop looking for reasons to deny the bill and urge Brown to sign it into law. Students are the ones who that will reap the benefits of this bill, and it’s up to students to let their voices be heard.

 

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The award-winning news site of Cosumnes River College
Editorial: Offering bachelor’s degrees at community colleges is the right decision