By Ivan Cazares
The Los Angeles Community College District is rallying behind President Obama’s America’s College promise.
The president announced this proposal to make the first two years of community college free for all citizens during a visit to Pellissippi State Community College, in Knoxville, Tennessee.
LACCD Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez, Ph.D., “Those of us who have been around long enough, we are returning to that free tuition in California. In 1960 UC, CSU, and California community colleges were, essentially, free. There were fees involved, of course, but the tuition part was an investment made by this state in its infrastructure, in its human infrastructure.”
Obama proposes that a similar program be adopted nationwide. Students would have to maintain a 2.5 grade-point average or higher and be attending at least half the time.
He expanded on the proposal during his 2015 State of The Union Address. Obama proposed that the Federal government provide 75 percent of community colleges funds and that each state provide the other 25 percent through tax increases.
“I am proud to stand with President Obama in support of community college students throughout our nation” LACCD Board president Scott Svonkin said.
LACCD is the largest community college district in the nation. It serves one quarter of a million students every year in more than 36 cities.
A large number of students at LACCD are eligible for a fee waiver, however this new proposal would affect nine million students and could save them an estimated $3,800 a year in tuition.
America’s Promise is based on The Tennessee Promise, which was signed into law by Governor Bill Haslam.
The Tennessee Promise guarantees qualified Tennessee high school graduates the opportunity to attend one of the state’s 13 community colleges, or 27 colleges of applied science tuition free for two years.
Those who oppose the President’s proposition argue that the program would cost taxpayers too much money. Some are arguing that more people earning college degrees would reduce the value of a higher education.
A report from Burning Glass, a labor market analytics company, says that 65 percent of online postings to fill executive secretaries and assistant executives positions now call for a bachelor’s degree.
The report also says that although the position of construction supervisor takes an average of 33 days longer to fill when the employer asks for a bachelor’s degree. There has been a drastic increase in the number of employers asking for college degrees to fill positions that aren’t historically associated with higher education.
The information is gathered from Burning Glasse’s database of online job postings and the 2011-2012 American Community Survey.
This change in the job market is being called degree inflation. WiseGeek.com published an article that argues that having a college degree does not guarantee the graduate would be a qualified employee.
It also points out that an increasing number of jobs that only required an associate’s degree are now requiring a bachelors or even a master’s degree in some cases.
“America thrived in the 20th century because we made High School the norm,” Obama said.
Supporters of the president’s proposal argue that making the first two years of community college free will help the United States be competitive in the global economy.
The president also said that he placed his focus on community colleges because they serve students that otherwise wouldn’t have access to higher education, and that community colleges help veterans transition back into civilian life.