By Paul Medina
Enrollment for students at the Los Angeles Community College District are at lower levels compared to last year, jeopardizing the personal success of minority students.
Proof was shown with a credit enrollment comparison chart at the March 11, District Academic Senate meeting.
DAS President Angela Echeverri said she is concerned about the number of enrolled students across the nine-campus college district based on figures from March 4.
While East Los Angeles College numbers are lower compared to a year ago, ELAC figures fare better compared to other campuses within the LACCD.
“We have a big hole to climb out of, the enrollment losses have not been even throughout the district, you can see that Southwest, Trade and West have been particularly hard,” Echeverri said.
A decline in student population is unfortunately being felt throughout California. Beginning with the start of the pandemic, throughout the academic year, concerns about declining enrollment have rippled statewide.
According to EdSource, California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley said at a September Board of Governors meeting “This is an issue that we’re paying very close attention to, that we’re very concerned about, particularly as it relates to any loss of enrollment for our most vulnerable student populations.”
Echeverri further raised concern over the status of Southwest College, whose enrollment numbers are the lowest in the district.
“I would say Southwest is hit the hardest, I think that there’s a lot of concern about the future of that college. How do we turn this around? They’ve already been struggling financially for years and now you have a hit like this,” Echeverri said.
Further concerns were brought upon by other board members. DAS Secretary Lourdes Brent who is an EOPS Counselor at LA Trade Tech College concurred with Echeverri about the impact of education loss in the community.
“I was going to make the point about learning loss happening in K-12 and how it’s going to affect our communities. I think part of it has to do with the socioeconomic status of the students at certain colleges which are being disproportionately affected.” Brent Said.
Southwest College which is suffering the lowest enrollment in the district is located in the unincorporated area of West Athens, which according to the Census in 2019, it had a staggering 10.4% of residents living below the federal poverty level.
The community’s demographics is made up of 52.1% Black and 46.1% Hispanic or Latino.
LA Trade Tech College enrollment has also hit low levels.
The decreasing enrollment is an unfortunate matter as it affects an institution which primarily serves communities with a high disproportionate amount of poverty and lower socioeconomic levels.
Aside from serving as a reputable degree granting institution, Trade Tech happens to be the district’s flagship campus in providing trade programs such as welding, automotive technology, culinary arts, cosmetology and construction.
These programs prepare students for careers in fields crucial for economic development and job placement in the community. And by students not being educated, it can hamper success to its students, many who are of color.
According to Fall 2019 figures at LACCD’s website, Black and Hispanic students made up the majority of the Trade Tech’s students.
“I really think we need to start having those conversations. How to turn this around? Because this is a huge challenge for all of our colleges.” Echeverri said.
DAS, is a districtwide committee which is made up of six officers, 9 academic senate presidents, each from a different college and representative members from every campus.
According to their website DAS “represents the faculty of the Los Angeles Community College District in all academic and professional matters.” Matters include grading policies, degree and certificate requirements as well as educational program development throughout the district.
DAS next meeting is scheduled for May 13.