Students Say California’s Legislature Should #InvestinSuccess

Students enroll in college with a belief that they will one day cross the graduation stage. How we fund community colleges should reflect the reality that students want more than access to campuses — they want to transfer, earn a certificate or degree, and leave college prepared to succeed in their careers. Yet too many students fail to complete college due to barriers including a broken remedial education system, a transfer maze, and a lack of guidance that significantly increases the time to a degree.

Governor Brown’s 2018-19 Budget realizes the urgency to ensure better student outcomes by proposing an ambitious new funding formula for California Community Colleges that encourages colleges to make progress and improve student outcomes. The proposal is historic in that it puts student success on par with student access.

Students are speaking up in support! Read the stories below to see what students are saying about the Governor’s proposal.

Alaye Sanders, Cosumnes River College

“Hi, my name is Alaye Sanders and I am currently in my second year at Cosumnes River College. So far, I regret to say I’ve experienced a myriad of structural obstacles. I was confused about how difficult it was to navigate and find resources to help me.  I was alarmed at how confused the counselors were when it came to pointing me in the right direction. The CRC mission statement clearly states, “CRC promotes teaching and learning excellence through diverse educational opportunities, varied instructional and effective student services.” But how effective is a toolbox that none can find?

This experience was different from high school, I was able to graduate from Valley High School with the help of a college prep program called “Improve Your Tomorrow” (IYT), which specifically targets students who look like me – young black and brown men. A  goal clearly detailed in their mission statement, we proudly incorporated into our “IYT Creed” that we chanted during every session. It’s thanks to programs like IYT that enable students like me to succeed.

This is why I support a funding formula that is student focused and encourages institutions to support student sustainability and improvement. While the subcommittee decision has already been made, I believe it’s important for the student’s voices to be heard.

Thank you for hearing me out.”

Alex Griffin, California Community College Board of

Governors 

“I started my journey in the Community College System in the fall of 2015. At the time I attended Diablo Valley College and later my journey would take me to Contra Costa College, which would change my life.

I am the current Student Body President and I am a member of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors, so it is safe to say my time has been different compared to other students in the system. The State of California is going through new and exciting changes and the California Community College system is evolving with it.

If we are not focusing on equity, student success, and access we will not set students up for success because no two students are the same, which is why this funding formula will help close achievement gaps and lower the obstacles that so many students, especially those of color, face each and every day.”

 

Breanna Cabiles, Diablo Valley College

“I have been surrounded by the Contra Costa Community College District my whole life, with my mother working at Los Medanos College and Diablo Valley College for over 30 years. I have attended DVC for some years and have worked on campus.

When I decided to go back to school, I joined a technology program called Year Up. Our mission statement directly correlates with the funding formula. We are actively trying to close the opportunity divide by providing young adults with the tools and support that will empower them to reach their potential through professional careers and higher education.

Community college students work hard to be successful in class, only to be hindered by financial struggles. We are forced to choose between staying in school or dropping out and working menial jobs. If this funding formula were approved, we would be able to prioritize low-income and unrepresented student success.”

 

Salvador Melendez, Rio Hondo College Alum

Earlier this month I finished my first year of law school at the University of La Verne. As I celebrate this accomplishment with friends and family, I can’t help but reflect back on the institution where I began my journey – Rio Hondo College.

As a freshman and first-generation college student, I lacked direction and guidance. I was uncertain about what the future held for me and I often questioned my skills and abilities. That all changed the day I met my counselor Mr. Thomas. Mr. Thomas went out of his way to ensure I transferred out of community college and into a 4 year university. He acted as a mentor and guide during my time at community college. Mr. Thomas’ kindness resulted in me successfully transferring out of Rio Hondo College and into Cal State LA in under 2 years.
Although I’m proud of my success, I know my story is rare. Less than half of all community college students in California receive a degree, certificate or transfer after 6 years of attending community college. That’s unacceptable. California desperately needs more college graduates and simply put – we’re not producing enough.

That’s why I support Governor Brown’s #StudenCentered funding formula. This new funding formula prioritizes student success and equity – not just enrollment numbers. With the Governor’s new funding proposal, Rio Hondo would gain an additional $2,015,650. CC’s desperately need more funding to provide resources for low-income students, first-generation college students and undocumented students. Transferring out of community college should not be dependent on whether you’re lucky enough to encounter a counselor like Mr. Thomas.

I hope the California Legislature will choose to vote to #InvestinSuccess and invest in students like me. The future of California truly depends on it.

 

Helen Yasko,  City College of San Francisco

70% of California’s community college students do not obtain a degree or even transfer to a four year. Too many of our low-income students face hardships or other adversities and are not finishing their courses due to the college’s inability to serve them. The students who need the most help simply aren’t getting it. Community colleges must be funded based on student success and would give colleges the initiative to ensure its students finish their classes and college goals.

I’m one of these students. I grew up on welfare. I remember going to food closets. I remember scraping money together for bus fare to get to school every day. I remember the times the lights and electricity would get shut off at home. I remember late nights at my friend’s houses to do my homework assignments because we did not have a computer at home. I remember the church paying for our rent a couple times and them telling my mother that she “needed to plan better.”

These struggles followed me to college. I could not afford my books due to a complication with my FAFSA, I couldn’t get aid and I dropped out of college and continued to work instead. It took 9 years for me to finally be able to start school again, not because I was lazy, not because I didn’t want to, but because I just couldn’t.

Schools in urban areas like San Francisco—where many of its students of color are facing adversity, scraping by, and paying sky-high rent—especially need resources, extra aid, and more funding for these students. Without it we turn our backs on struggling students, allowing them to quit school and continue the never-ending cycle as drop out statistics working dead-end jobs, living paycheck to paycheck.

It seems it is hard for people who are fortunate enough to not go through such hardships to understand that people like us are truly trying our best to do all we can to get ahead, to get out of the hole, to see the day where success is finally ours too.

 

Sohpy Perlata, Mt. San Antonio College

My community college years set my foundation to pursue higher education. Although, my journey at Mt. San Antonio College (Mt. SAC) did not start with the best support system because I was undocumented. At the time, no one knew how to help students like me. As years went by, I finally found a college outreach counselor at Mt.SAC. Elmer Rodriguez was knowledgeable in how to help undocumented students who were getting ready to transfer to a 4-yr university in order to pursue their undergraduate degrees/studies.

It was challenging and overwhelming to navigate community college when no one seems to know how to help you. Especially when you are considered a non-traditional student because of your “undocumented” background. Yet, people like Elmer made a monumental difference not only by providing his moral support but by finding ways and information to set me on track to graduate from community college, transfer and apply to a university. If community colleges were to train and educate more individuals in counseling positions, like Elmer, undocumented students would struggle less and find the necessary and invaluable information/resources they need sooner rather than later.

That is why I support Governor Brown’s #studentcentered funding formula because it prioritizes #studentsuccess and #equity. Additional funding could improve essential programs and prepare staff, administrators, and counselors to help students like me continue to achieve their goals by providing them with the support network they need to focus on their education.

#CaliforniaLegislature, The time for action is now! #InvestinMe #InvestinSuccess

Tylar Campbell, UCLA

To learn more about the funding formula, read our Invest in Success brief, our letter to the Conference Budget Committee on the Budget, and op-eds from The Campaign for College Opportunity president, Michele Siqueiros, Compton College President Keith Curry, and Los Rios Community College Board Trustee Pamela Haynes