Con: "The California Master Plan for Higher Education established in 1960 states public higher education 'shall be tuition free to all residents.' That was always the primary mission of the community colleges: provide higher education to residents regardless of socio-economic status or income. In the 1980s, colleges facing budget constraints introduced 'enrollment fees', an end run around the prohibition on charging tuition. Currently, these 'fees' are $46 per unit.
For many, especially from disadvantaged or underrepresented populations, $46/unit is a hardship that means not pursuing higher education. Additionally, recent efforts to institute 'full cost' courses exacerbate current imbalances, serving to exclude students who most want to attend community colleges. Unfortunately, SMC led the way two years ago by sponsoring a bill permitting community colleges to offer 'full cost' courses, and they continue to support legislation of this manner today-even after backlash at the attempt on their own campus resulted in students being pepper-sprayed at a public meeting.
I believe we should return to the model of no-cost community colleges to insure fairness and access for ALL students. However, as a realist, my short-term goal is to ensure that 'enrollment fees' don't increase, and a 'full cost' program isn’t instituted at SMC."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "Under the California Master Plan for Higher Education community colleges were established to offer 'academic and vocational instruction for older and younger students through the first two years of undergraduate education (lower division),' to provide career technical education, and lifelong learning-and in these areas they tend to do an excellent job. There are always concerns when community colleges veer wildly from this stated mission, not the least of which is that offering four-year programs would potentially compromise opportunities for students in each of the three enumerated areas by siphoning resources from the two-year programs to support the four-year programs.
With that said, however, we must honestly acknowledge that there is a need for additional baccalaureate degrees in specialized technical programs-and that need is not being filled by the CSU and UC system. My belief is that Santa Monica College should not participate in the current pilot program, but keep a watchful eye on how it progresses at other community colleges statewide. If the program proves it can operate in a manner that does not compromise the primary mission areas of the community college, then I would agree to give a 4-year program at SMC due consideration."
Con: "There is obviously a continuing need for vocational courses, and this is a need that is supposed to be filled by the community colleges of California. However, in 2003 the automotive, architecture, fire technology, emergency management, administration of justice, hospitality, recreation and geographic services programs were discontinued in the face of serious, prolonged community protests. Despite reinstating an auto repair certificate (only 3 classes and held on the high school campus), little else has been done to restore the vocational program to its former size and breadth despite assurances by the Board to the contrary. By reducing the number of many 'hands-on' vocational programs, the College continues to disenfranchise those in the community who would benefit the most from having the technical training needed to obtain jobs in higher paying lines of employment. There is clear evidence that the community places great value in these programs, and if elected, I will make the restoration of the 2-year vocational program a priority."
Pro: "The last report from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Accrediting Commission reported that 42% of the Samohi graduating class of 2010 intended to attend a two-year college, however current SMC figures show that only 20% of students currently come from within the District. While that percentage might be high compared to other districts in the state, it is not good enough. Additionally, greater emphasis needs to be placed on ensuring college readiness for those students who do come to SMC from Samohi. The most 2013/2014 Youth Wellbeing Report Card shows that only 17.6% of students place in college-level Math and/or English. There needs to be more aggressive outreach and college preparation to families in the Pico and Ocean Park neighborhoods so that the College is accessible to ALL students, and more accurately reflects the diverse and vibrant communities that make up Santa Monica and Malibu."
Not Clearly Pro or Con: "SMC is one of the premier community colleges state and nationwide, due in no small part to her faculty, however, recent actions including embracing and supporting 'full cost courses' cast doubt on whether the Board shares the same ongoing commitment to providing access to a quality education for ALL students regardless of income or socio-economic status.
Take, for example, the imbalance between full-time and part-time (adjunct) faculty (310 full to 1070 adjunct). Adjunct faculty, often paid a wage making it difficult to live and raise a family in the L.A. area, must take multiple teaching jobs at campuses across the region in order to patch enough hours together to make ends meet. This serves to effectively reduce the amount of time they are able to spend providing office hours and guidance to their students. This imbalance is an important reason that 35% of incoming freshmen transferring from Samohi do not meet a 'C' level grade average at the end of their first semester at SMC, according to the 2013/2014 Youth Wellbeing Report Card.
We must do better by our students by restoring a culture committed to excellence in education, and that must start at the top-with the Board of Trustees."
Con: "Expansions, including the Bundy campus, the Broad Theatre complex, and the Academy of Entertainment and Technology have occurred despite faculty, staff, student, and community concerns about these projects.
The Student Services Building exists as no more than a computer-generated image and fenced-up hole on Pico since the groundbreaking 5 years ago (original projected completion: 2013). Also consider the Liberal Arts building, built in 1952 and heavily damaged in the 1994 Northridge earthquake. Both the 1998 SMC Career and Educational Facilities Master Plan and the 2012 review of the SMC Capital Outlay Program called for demolition. However, the original building still stands more than 15 years after it was initially slated for removal, and today its 'poor functionality, low technology, and low efficiency' rooms contain Psychological Services, the Assessment Center, and the Veterans' Office, among others. Additionally, classes are still being held in these substandard rooms lacking adequate window treatments, air conditioning, and updated technology-all items serving to undermine a student’s success.
The discrepancies in the above building plans suggest that before additional expansion occurs, the College needs a revised and more carefully prioritized plan that meaningfully takes into account both College needs and the surrounding community concerns and views."
I'm a leader with proven track records standing up for students and the community against poor policy decisions-such as the "two-tier" class fee system. I'm the only candidate with three decades in community college classrooms, teaching 28 years as professor at Santa Monica College, and serving as president of the Faculty Association California Community Colleges. I will fight for what matters to you.
As a SMC Board of Trustees candidate I'm committed to:
Stopping "corporatization" of Santa Monica College
Increasing budgetary and bond oversight
Providing greater equity and access for all
Expanding critical job training programs
Ensuring the college is a better neighbor to the diverse, vibrant community that is Santa Monica.
I'm endorsed by:
Santa Monica College Faculty Association
L.A. College Faculty Guild, Local 1521
California Community College Independents
Faculty Association California Community Colleges
Margaret Quinones-Perez, Santa Monica College Trustee
Oscar De La Torre, Board Member, Santa Monica-Malibu School District
I'm dedicated to the principle that higher education & lifelong learning is available to every resident regardless of socio-economic status or background. I'll ensure SMC remains accessible to those needing it the most, while maintaining a record of excellence in education.