By Annette Quijada
Assembly Bill 1705 is making its way through the California state legislature and if passed, will require new community college students to start in transfer English and Math courses. The bill will require community colleges to enroll new high school and GED graduates into transfer-level Math and English courses by July 2023. Community colleges would no longer offer pre-transfer level Math and English courses. The author of the bill is Assembly member Jaqui Irwin.
East Los Angeles College Mathematics Professor and Chair of the Districts Mathematics Council, Daniel Judge, is leading the opposition to the bill and improvement plan along with other community college faculty.
“AB1705 is putting students in those transfer level Math and English courses and saying, ‘do the best you can, just get tutoring, you have three tries and good luck.’ The problem with that is students have other responsibilities, they may not be able to add 3 extra hours a day in an English or Math class to get tutoring. They may have to go home and take care of their children, go to work, or take care of their parents. It’s not so easy to say to somebody to go get this extra stuff done,” Judge said.
The District Mathematics Council proposed amendments to the bill to focus on students having the right to chose to enroll into a pre-transfer level Math or English course if the student believes it fulfills their academic needs based on the following criteria:
- Completing a certificate program.
- Completing course requirements in a Career and technical education program.
- Learn content knowledge in Math and English courses because of learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic or having stayed out of school for a period of time.
- College program needs.
- Fulfilling a learning priority in a Math or English course.
The amended bill would allow for students’ needs to take precedent. The wording would give students more freedom. “AB1705 shall not be used to prohibit, or deny, a student an opportunity to enroll in any pre-transfer level Mathematics or English courses based on students’ right to determine for themselves their academic needs.”
Judge is a former ELAC student. As a student he was working and taking care of grandparents, his mother and looking after siblings.
“It took me four years to graduate from community college and transfer. I started in Geometry 120, then I took Math 125 (intermediate algebra), before I could get into a transfer-level math course. If you said to me ‘we’re going to start you at a transfer level course,’ I would’ve never gone to college. For me this is a very personal thing, I understand what students go through because I went through it myself. This would’ve stopped me from going to school. I would’ve been disenfranchised,” Judge said.
Judge said disenfranchised students are another reason for opposing the bill. Judge has students come to him saying they were put into transfer-level Math and can’t do it so they’re not even going to try.
“When students have limited options, they become desperate and turn to for-profit schools. For-profits leave students in large amounts of debt and sometimes their for-profit degree is not accepted for jobs. We are trying to protect our community college mission and protect our students from for-profits.”
Judge said they have been fighting to change the language of the bill. The final language is currently unknown.
“We went to Jaqui Irwin’s office, we met with her representative, we presented our amended bill and they were not accepting of our amended language.”
Campus News has reached out to Irwin’s office and are currently waiting for a comment.
There will be a Legislative Town Hall on April 20th covering AB1705. Students, faculty and anyone interested can register here: https://us06web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_WfKtdtBjRgmMqYueugKZLw.