Keeping California’s promise to community college students
By Bruce Baron
When Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 19 into law in October, students, parents and the public cheered. Authored by Assemblyman Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, AB19 will allow California community colleges to make the first year tuition-free for first-time, full-time students. At San Bernardino Community College District, we joined those cheers. This new “California Promise” plan is something to celebrate. But even as we celebrate, we must admit that we’ve only begun to scratch the surface. Because attending a California community college is still far from free.
Every day, our students at Crafton Hills College and San Bernardino Valley College, are studying hard and preparing for what California needs — now and for the future. They are preparing to transfer to four-year institutions; they are earning industry-valued certificates and associate degrees, and they are going for jobs that are available right now.
We are proud to be part of the largest institution of higher learning in the U.S., serving 2.1 million students. Here locally, we’re preparing our 21,000 students to become the health care professionals who serve our medical needs, the police and firefighters who keep us safe and the workers who fuel our economy. It’s a big job and requires a big commitment, and Gov. Brown’s approval of AB19 reaffirms that commitment to students throughout California counting on us for the quality education they seek.
But AB19 is not the only, nor even the first, promise our state has made to students. Even before this new law, California was a national leader in the college promise movement. For more than 30 years, the California Community College system has waived tuition for students who can afford it the least, with about one million current students receiving assistance under what is the most far-reaching free tuition program offered by any state. Formerly known as […]