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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, August 23, 2010, 4:15 am

Bill to streamline college transfer process advances

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    NORTH BAY – California Community Colleges officials are hopeful that a bill to put into place standards for students who transfer from a California community college to the California State University will be approved this month.

    The assembly appropriations committee passed the bill unanimously. It next goes to the Assembly and Senate. If approved it will go into effect next fall.

    Currently the degree process is governed by each community college. Some of these programs align with four-year degrees and some do not.

    What the author of the bill, Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, is intending to do is streamline the process so all students who go through a community college program with the goal of transferring to a CSU will be able to do so with ease and not have to retake courses.

    A projected $160 million would be saved if this goes through, a savings of $75 million annually for the community colleges and $85 million annually for the CSU system.

    “The savings the bill will create is the result of students taking fewer courses,” said Erik Skinner, the executive vice chancellor of programs at the California Community Colleges chancellor’s office.

    Senate Bill 1440 charges the two college systems with establishing a process that guarantees community college transfer students with a 2.0 GPA admission to a CSU campus at junior status while also granting them an associate degree.

    Joel Gordon, the dean of Early Childhood Education at Santa Rosa Junior College, said the bill addresses a real issue that frustrates many students.

    “Students have to retake the same class again at the university level that they took here,” he said.

    “It is expensive. People just can’t afford anymore to take so long to get their degree.”

    He said with this legislation, there could be a lot of courses the CSU system doesn’t need to offer that are available at community colleges.

    “Really, we are asking for more joint work and accountability,” he said.

    However, not everyone at the community college level agrees with the bill as it is written.

    A statement by directors of community college transfer centers said “SB 1440 confuses the community college associate degree with what is necessary for transfer, and, therefore, does not actually produce the results that it proposes. It also creates other unintended and undesirable consequences.”

    Saeid Rahimi, the provost at Sonoma State University, welcomed the bill.

    “The way I see it is it is a very positive development,” he said. “The bill addresses a real issue. As students go to the JC for a few years, not all the units are useful in the four-year college they will go to. With this bill, students who are destined for four-year colleges can apply what they studied at the junior college.”

    Andy Merrifield is a political science professor at Sonoma State and a representative of the California Faculty Association.

    His concerns are with students getting quality education.

    “All the language that we wanted placed in the bill was added,” he said. “We are supportive of the bill as modified.”

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