California has its share of problems, and the community college problem there has been in the news a lot recently. The latest attempt in that state to solve its educational woes is to offer high-demand classes to students at a higher rate of tuition. In other words, if you are a community college student and really need or want a class, you better be willing to pony up the big bucks. I’m talking about California residents having to pay almost 4.5 times as much for a “high demand class.”
What a terrible idea! It goes against the very mission of a community college.
Community colleges are historically open access–meaning we take everyone. And we offer people the opportunity for social mobility through our open door policies. Upping the tuition on high demand classes is tantamount to slamming shut that open door–but only on those who can’t afford to pay the premium prices. Limiting access to anyone is contrary to our mission and values.
Assemblyman Williams of Santa Barbara explains the rationale behind the bill that would put this into effect: “Why should we force them [waitlisted students] to sit around for a year or two or three of their lives to wait to get into those courses if they want to pay a little extra to get into the course now?”
I get that California faces challenges we don’t here in the great state of South Carolina. 4,000 students on a waiting list is unbelievable–and it’s definitely a problem. But the solution to that problem isn’t to offer people with more money the opportunity to jump to the front of that line of 4,000 people.
We learned this basic principle in kindergarten: wait your turn. Clearly, it’s not perfect, and in an ideal world, no one would have to wait. But as long as there is a waiting line, it is imperative that the people in it are treated fairly. And allowing those with money to skip ahead of those without is wrong; it isn’t fair. It’s downright un-American. And it certainly isn’t what community colleges should do. It’s not who we are.
Like every post here, this one comes with the disclaimer (in case you haven’t noticed that).