California’s edict on streamlining

Benny McFadden

I began my studies at City College in 2009 as a member of the out-of-work residents of San Diego, and had been unemployed for so long, that returning to college
to seek a degree made more sense than endlessly applying for jobs to no
avail.

My first two years at City were spent living in my 1989 Chrysler on Park Boulevard, where I had a short walk to the campus and studied in the early mornings
before classes. 
I had first learned about City’s Radio and Television department from former local news anchor Bree Walker, who once
spoke at my elementary school as a guest orator when I was a child and it had
always been the collegiate program I wanted to attend if I ever decided
to go back to college.

Recently, as quoted in City Times, Mark Rocha, president of Pasadena
City College, when referring to students who take financial aid and the
new transfer policy SB1456, said, “You can’t come here and hang out
anymore.” 
While those of us who are, at times, literally students on the verge of
starvation would like to believe Rocha and other administrators who
helped pen the bill have the students best interests at heart when they
make changes like this, many of us who have experienced cost-cutting
policies at corporations or been laid off from jobs, not because of our
work ethic, but because the companies we worked for were poorly managed
and losing money, skeptically view this kind of change as a “run the
bums off” policy.
I would like to thank the current Chancellor of our community college
district, the current President of our college and all current faculty
administrators, staff and employees for fighting for the district, City
College and the students here during this abominable financial crisis
that has ensued since the bottom dropped out in 2008.
However, in my time here at City, that I admit has drawn on way longer
than I ever anticipated, is going to be referred to as “hanging out,”
then I am going to call the kettle black.

Streamlining the educational careers of college students is a dangerous
idea for many of us returning students over the age of twenty-five.  We are not attending college to find a new party scene or “discover ourselves.”  We are searching for stability; educationally and economically.
When a college district like SDCCD cancels summer classes, limits the
availability of classes offered during fall and spring semester and
blames state and federal funding for these cuts, a plausible assumption
can be made that these cuts to our access to education are realistic in
regards to the current financial crisis and temporary adjustments to
survive said crisis.

SB1456 does not appear to be a temporary adjustment, though.  It appears
to be a major, permanent overhaul of how California community colleges
operate. Over half of the people my same age that I know who have college degrees earned them in more than four years. What bewilders those of us who used to have full time employment and supported ourselves with our own labor without college degrees is when people in authoritative positions make laws, change rules, or skew the system to make it more difficult for students to plan their lives around a broken educational system. I’m on financial aid and taking student loans. Regardless of my personal financial situation, City College does earn money from my being a student on campus.
How the powers-that-be spend their salaries, which vacation resorts they travel to during summer months and how many cars or houses their families own is none of my business. It truly is insulting though, when some of these administrators treat myself and others on campus, who help pay their salaries simply by registering for classes, as hapless bums who are working the financial aid system like secretly wealthy sign flippers on street corners, while the reality is that we are homeless, under or unemployed and hardly scraping by on a day-to-day basis. I would recommend to the entire California community college district system a different approach to solving financial burnout with a wet blanket and a bag of sand. Today’s financial realities call for all of us to earn our own. Not to pray at the alter of magical, voter-approved tax increases, or pretend, like a lot of other policy makers, politicians and wealthy business interests in California, the wealthiest state of the union; that poor lechers who are too lazy to work are the sole reason for today’s economic woes. We are in a global recession. Mismanagement of government and public institutions is just as much to blame for California’s bleak economy as the housing crisis and the devaluing of every currency in the world. I suppose this much is true: you can always afford to blame the poor for treason if you can afford two buckets more of unrest for the season.