The California Community Colleges Need Your Support

Have you or your family ever taken a course at your community college? Earned a certificate or degree at a community college? Has a community college faculty member inspired you, supported you, and championed your success? I am a proud community college faculty member teaching at Gavilan College for the past 17 years. As a classroom instructor who has interacted with students daily throughout the pandemic, it is very clear students need and want community college education now more than ever.

According to the California Education Code, the mission of the California Community Colleges is defined in four parts: remedial education, career education (technical skills programs), transfer to four-year colleges or universities, and lifelong learning. 

Over the past 15 years, special interest groups and their funders, who do not have any direct community college experience, have focused on shrinking the California Community Colleges’ mission to one-part: transfer. If these special interest groups succeed, the California Community Colleges will no longer be the community colleges that California residents have been able to access for over one hundred years.

In 2008, the California Community Colleges served 2.9 million students. Today, the system serves 1.8 million students. While California’s adult population has grown over these past 14 years, the California Community Colleges system has lost over one million students. 

Where are those million plus students going for their remedial, lifelong learning, ESL, career education, and transfer courses? Seventy-five percent of the students who attend the California Community Colleges are low-income and working-class students and students of color with an average age of 26 years old. Eliminating educational opportunity for over one million Californians who have come to rely on community colleges is a form of structural racism and classism.

For the past 50 or so years, special interest groups and foundations have funded policies designed to shrink the California Community Colleges. These groups include The Campaign for College Opportunity, Ed Trust West, California Acceleration Project, and Public Advocates. Two of the largest funding sources of these and other groups are The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.

Unfortunately, there is a disconnect between these groups and the California Community Colleges. Most of these groups have little or no direct experience within the community colleges; they do not understand who our students are. As a result of this disconnect, they continue to design policy that makes it more difficult for our students to enroll and succeed. Ironically, these groups claim that their policies are more equitable when in practice, they have been responsible for the system’s loss of one million plus students over the course of a decade.

Who stands to gain from the shrinking of the California Community Colleges?

  • Private and for-profit colleges and universities.
  • The student loan industry which notoriously preys upon students.
  • The anti-labor movement whose long-term goal is to eliminate unions.
  • Individuals who do not believe in investing in public education.

Who stands to lose from the shrinking of the California Community Colleges?

  • Any adult California resident who can benefit from a college education.
  • Any adult California resident for whom low-cost, high quality community college education is the only affordable option.
  • Any adult California resident who wishes to return to college to gain new skills, train for a new career, or explore their passion.
  • Any adult California resident who wants to learn and interact with their community in an educational environment.
  • Any adult California resident who wants to explore their options as they embark on an educational path.


FACCC blog posts are written independently by FACCC members and encompass their experiences and recommendations. FACCC neither condemns nor endorses the recommendations herein.
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