Co-authored with Anthony E. Beebe, Ed.D.
Molly Munger flew into town Thursday night to explain the virtues of California Proposition 38 to about 50 of us at the Jacobs Center in Southeast San Diego. Before we go any further, it is important to say that Molly Munger's passion for education is undeniable. She is as frustrated as many of us are that California lacks even the basic legislative leadership to build a state budget that provides for the most fundamental of all public services -- the education of our children. Instead, we are debating the best short-term financing for our children's future through ballot measures.
In Molly's presentation, she spent considerable time talking about the funding problem of education in California, "lockboxes," and the mechanics of Prop 38. The problem is that she missed the elephant in the room, which was how Prop 38 fails to helps local community colleges. She did point out that, "Half the children in California will never see higher education," as somehow justification that Prop 38 did not need to address education beyond high school. Molly Munger has it exactly backward: It is because only half the children in California will never see higher education that Prop 38 should have included community colleges. This is the tragic oversight of Prop 38, giving up on half our youth.
The data from a multitude of sources are indisputable that for our children to prosper and get good paying jobs, it is no longer enough merely to get through high school. This has been shown not only in California, but across the country. Employers tell us that 50 percent of U.S. workers need at least some college to do their jobs well. On average, between now and 2018, it is estimated that 63 percent of jobs in America will require some education beyond high school. In some areas this will be as high as 71 percent. Parents should see for themselves at here. California's community colleges are the long-established workforce training engine for the state. Community colleges provide nearly 3 million Californians an affordable option for education beyond high school through a two-year associate degree or the ability to transfer to a four year university. However, like our sister K-12 schools, California community colleges are suffering from the budget crisis.
Community colleges have already been forced to implement $809 million in reductions since the 2008-09 school year and California community colleges have had a 17 percent reduction in enrollment, amounting to about 485,000 students being pushed away. If Proposition 38 passes, California Community Colleges will lose another $545.6 million in the current year. Access to higher education, and specifically community colleges, will be cut dramatically again. Molly, where are our K-12 graduates to go for the college education needed to get jobs? In ever increasing numbers, our students are being recruited away to high-priced, private, for-profit universities or wooed by out-of-state universities. The dream of a California higher education degree is disappearing.
So Molly, while along you came and then jetted away, leaving behind glossy brochures you failed to explain that Prop 38 will not be enough to educate our children here in San Diego or California as a whole, providing them a hopeful and prosperous future. The solution must not only support our K-12 schools, but also our local community colleges. The solution rests in supporting K-14, which is why we are voting for Prop 30. Please click here for more information.
Anthony E. Beebe is President of San Diego Continuing Education, and Pam Luster is President of San Diego Mesa College, both institutions are part of the San Diego Community College District.