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Gov. Brown’s plan for online-only community college provokes pushback

By in Press Enterprise on November 17, 2017

By EdSource

By Mikhail Zinshteyn, EdSource

Leaders within the California Community College system are objecting to Gov. Jerry Brown’s push to create a new online-only community college.

Both faculty leaders and some members of the Board of Governors — the group that oversees the 114-campus system — said the process for creating an online college is rushed and expressed skepticism about the merits of a fully online college program.

Members of the Board of Governors voiced their concerns this week during their bimonthly meeting.

The faculty pushback surfaced in several resolutions approved at the Academic Senate of the California Community Colleges meeting November 2 through November 4.

Board of Governors member Geoffrey L. Baum said that, if the system pursues a statewide online college, California should ensure more low-income workers vying for credentials have access to fast internet so that students “don’t have to stand outside the door of the library in order to try to access [their courses].” Responding to testimony that more learners are relying on smart phones for their online needs, he added, “a phone is not a classroom.”

“I respect that the governor has one more year in office and he wants to make his mark and that he’s imposing this,” said board vice president Tom Epstein. “I’m not comfortable that we have really wrapped our arms around this yet. I think there are a lot of legitimate questions that have been raised today.” He added that he thinks Gov. Brown’s proposal is a “great idea” but that “we need more time.”

In May 11 letter, Brown asked Eloy Ortiz Oakley, the chancellor of the state’s community college system, to “take whatever steps are necessary to establish a new community college that — exclusively — offers fully online degree programs.” That spurred the chancellor to create a working group to come up with various […]    

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