Sunday, March 25, 2018
The Assembly Higher Education Committee unanimously endorsed Assembly Bill 1936 this month, which would seem to bode well for its enactment.
It would create an Office of Higher Education Performance and Accountability to plan how California is to meet its ever-rising demand for post-high school education and coordinate the state’s three college and university systems.
However, if history is any guide, AB 1936 is doomed. At least seven other bills with similar purposes have either died in the Legislature or been vetoed by Gov. Jerry Brown in recent years, including two others by AB 1936’s author, Assemblyman Evan Low, a Campbell Democrat.
The demise of those bills and the likely death of AB 1936 testify to the difficulty California’s politicians have in dealing with one of the state’s thorniest issues.
Every bit of data tells us that California faces a potential crisis because it is failing to generate enough college-educated workers to replace retiring baby boomers and fill the demands of an increasingly sophisticated economy.
That failure underscores the irrelevance of the state’s nearly 60-year-old “master plan” for higher education, which envisioned seamless, low-cost access to community colleges, the state university system and the University of California.
Costs, particularly for tuition at the four-year schools, have skyrocketed as the state’s financial support has declined. Demand for classes leading to graduation has outstripped supply. And the three systems that were supposed to be models of cooperation have become fiercely competitive for money and academic turf control...