Community college chief touts access for low-income students at D.C. summit

California Community College Chancellor Brice Harris pledged before the president, first lady and the nation on Thursday to press forward with policies aimed at opening the doors to college for more students, especially low-income students, and boosting their graduation and transfer rates to four-year colleges.


California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris

Harris attended the White House Summit on College Access for Low-Income and Disadvantaged Students at the invitation of President and Mrs. Obama. The event brought together more than 100 college and university presidents, advocates and business leaders to share ideas for improving college access and graduation for low-income and other underserved students.

He discussed the Student Success Initiative, which requires the state’s community colleges to take a more personal approach to helping students succeed by encouraging them to participate in orientation and to develop an education plan. As an incentive, those students will receive priority registration for classes.

It’s an honor “to tell the summit attendees how the California Community Colleges are leading the way in accountability, accessibility, assessment and remediation,” said Harris in a statement. “All of the hard work that has been done through our Student Success Initiative directly benefits low-income students, and helps them to complete their educational goals faster and at a lower cost. It’s a win-win for everyone and nice to be able to share our best practices with higher education leaders from around the country.”

Harris also described the Student Success Scorecard, an interactive online program launched last year that lets prospective students look up demographics, completion rates, the percentage of students who make it through remedial classes, and how many students complete career technical education programs.

A number of studies have found dismal success rates at California community colleges. According to the Institute for Higher Education Leadership and Policy at Sacramento State University, 70 percent of students who said they planned to earn a degree, certificate or transfer to a four-year college had not reached their goal after six years. The numbers are even worse for Black and Latino students.

The White House released a 91-page report outlining commitments by public and private colleges across the country, including California State University and the University of California. CSU said it would allocate $8 million to hire more student advisers, another $8 million to expand a summer programs designed to get students ready for college-level work so they won’t need remedial classes, and $12 million to “ramp-up” practices that keep students engaged in college, such as student research, internships and study abroad programs.

Various UC campuses said they’d do more outreach to local middle and high schools to let low-income and first-generation college students know what they need to do to prepare for college. UC Merced is investing $460,000 specifically to provide more academic advising and other assistance for undocumented students. UC Davis announced that it would expand its program to help community college students “seamlessly” transfer to the university.

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3 Responses to “Community college chief touts access for low-income students at D.C. summit”

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  1. Sue B. on Jan 21, 2014 at 7:35 pm01/21/2014 7:35 pm

    • 000

    If Chancellor Harris is serious about opening the doors and welcoming low-income students, he surely better object to the Governor’s proposed budget item that would allow districts to move 25% funding for the CalWORKs categorical program into other campus areas.

  2. Geoff Hagopian on Jan 18, 2014 at 11:38 pm01/18/2014 11:38 pm

    • 000

    Here’s what irks me about this. Typically students entering CCCs need at least one year, more likely 2 or 3 years of pre-college level study to prepare for college-level courses. This is not surprising since these non-traditional students are often returning, and/or are the students who for whatever reason have not been served well by California’s miserably under-funded k12 system (per-student funding is almost the lowest in the 50 state. What the statistics they cite may just as well indicate then, is that 30% of these students are able get through their 2 years of remediation and 4 years of college-level study and get a college degree in only 6 years. These are the students that k12 deemed not college ready in the first place and would never have had access to college acceptance at CSU or UC without the CCCs. That’s an amazing success story, but they sell it as failure. Why? Could this self-serving in some way? Does failure in public education sell better in Sacramento and Washington and Wall St? Methinks so.

  3. aj on Jan 17, 2014 at 9:30 pm01/17/2014 9:30 pm

    • 000

    Chancellor Harris boasts of California Community Colleges’ BEST practices.

    Yet Chancellor Harris and CCC are guilty of the WORST practice: failing to defend CCSF against the incommensurate sanction of Termination of Accreditation by ACCJC. CCSF provides affordable, accessible and HIGH-QUALITY education and training to students in the community. Terminating accreditation would remove this resource from over 80,000 students, including the Summit’s target of “low-income and disadvantaged students”.

    Regarding the CCC Student Success Scorecard that Chancellor Harris described at the Summit: The Scorecard shows that CCSF outperforms ACCJC Commissioners Gornick’s and Kinsella’s schools; but yet CCSF is given the Death Sentence!

    The following is excerpted from my November 2013 e-mail to Chancellor Harris and the CCC Board of Governors:

    I am submitting this in writing with the hope that you will truly take an ordinary citizen’s input seriously and “do the right thing.”

    1. 2-TRACK STRATEGY–CCSF is taking a 1-track strategy of 100% obedience to ACCJC because of ACCJC policies that require compliance with “requests, directives, decisions and policies” under threat of imposition of sanction or denial of accreditation. CCC is not subject to this constraint. CCC has the duty of pursuing a 2-track strategy of challenging the validity of ACCJC sanctions, in addition to working on compliance. For CCC to fail to pursue a 2-track policy is a dereliction of its duty to the public welfare.

    2. FEDERAL PRIORITIES–The current USDE emphasis is on ACCESSIBILITY, AFFORDABILITY, QUALITY, COMPLETION: CCSF is lacking in none of these categories. CCC does well on USDE Scorecard and outperforms ACCJC Heavyweight Frank Gornick’s West Hills CCD and ACCJC Heavyweight Steven Kinsella’s Gavilan College.

    3. CCC SCORECARD MEASURES–According to CCC Scorecard, CCSF outperforms ACCJC Heavyweight Frank Gornick’s West Hills Community College District. Yet West Hills got effusive praise at the September BOG meeting, while CCSF got Termination Order. What’s up with that!

    4. VALIDITY OF ACCJC STANDARDS–I was able only to barely touch on the subject of validity of ACCJC standards at the meeting. Bottom line: CFR 602 and US Code 1099 mandate that accreditation to be focused on quality of education: § 602.1
    Why does the Secretary recognize accrediting agencies?
    (a) The Secretary recognizes accrediting agencies to ensure that these agencies are, for the purposes of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (HEA), or for other Federal purposes, reliable authorities regarding the quality of education or training offered by the institutions or programs they accredit.

    6. INTEGRITY, ETHICAL AND MORAL OBLIGATIONS/CONFLICT OF INTEREST–In dealing with the CCSF-ACCJC situation, it is your obligation to place the public welfare above all else: doing everything in your power–including questioning validity of ACCJC sanctions– for the good of the community and its students. Some people on CCC staff and Board have affiliations, professional, collegial and personal connections, past and present, with ACCJC. All decisions and deliberations in relation to CCSF and accreditation must be made for the public good, without even a hint or appearance of what’s called in the vernacular “taking care of” associates in ACCJC. Please show integrity and don’t fail in fulfilling you ethical, moral and civic duty to the public.

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