Patterico's Pontifications

5/1/2023

Fire Protection Takes a Back Seat to Higher Education Turf Wars in Progressive California

Filed under: General — JVW @ 9:23 am



[guest post by JVW]

Here’s a pretty incredible — but all too believable — story from CalMatters news:

[. . .] [H]istorically the California higher education system works like this: The University of California awards doctorate degrees, the UC and California State University award bachelor’s degrees and community colleges offer vocational training and associate degrees that students can utilize to transfer to UCs or CSUs.

But in 2021, a new law allowed the Community College Chancellor’s Office to establish as many as 30 new bachelor programs every year at any of its 116 colleges, as long as they weren’t “duplicative” of any existing programs at state universities.

Enter: Feather River College, a 1,300-student community college located in rural Plumas County, an area threatened by wildfires. It wants to award bachelor’s degrees in fire management, but Cal Poly Humboldt, 270 miles away, says that program duplicates its yet-to-be-created bachelor’s program.

Think about that. Rather than understand that Feather Ridge might have a pretty pointed need for competent fire management professionals and that educating them locally would maximize convenience and cost-effectiveness to the prospective students, Cal Poly Humboldt (formerly known as Cal State Humboldt or Humboldt State; they were designated a polytechnic campus just this past year) is pulling rank and demanding that prospective fire management students from counties like Plumas or Shasta or Modoc or Lassen make the four-hour journey to attend a CSU campus, where they naturally pay more in tuition and have to arrange for room and board. It would be akin to Santa Barbara City College, nestled in one of the most scenic academic environments around, wanting to offer a degree in ocean conservation but San Diego State demanding those students matriculate down the coast to its campus instead.

So one would think that good progressive California Democrats would take the side of the small scrappy upstart community college over the big four-year state university, right? After yammering on and on for years about the exorbitant price of college education and the stifling levels of student debt, they would move heaven and earth to prevent young scholars from having to travel far afield to pursue their educational dreams, wouldn’t they? Nah, they’re taking the side of Goliath over David.

In a letter to the Chancellor of California’s Community College system, Assembly Education Chair Mike Fong and Senate Education Chair Josh Newman suggested that Feather Ridge “pause” their application for the bachelors degree so that — and here comes flying the bureaucrat-speak — “an intersegmental workgroup [can] convene in order to discuss a resolution process for disputes and further define the duplicative consultation processes, and to better define program duplication.” That seems to be the long-winded way of writing “stay in your lane, community college, and don’t try to encroach on the CSU’s territory.” The idea here appears to be to delay Feather Ridge’s application long enough so that Cal Poly Humboldt can get its program up-and-running, at which point Feather Ridge will be told, “Sorry, but your proposed degree already exists at a Cal State school.”

So what gives? Why are Democrats in the legislature so hostile to community colleges? Is it because both Newman (of Brea) and Fong (of Monterey Park) represent urban/suburban districts and thus don’t like the rural forest goobers honing in on coastal turf (though Humboldt County isn’t exactly being scouted as the location for the next Baywatch reboot)? Is it the fact that the Cal State schools generate more economic activity for the state than the community colleges do? Is it because Plumas County votes Republican (2020: Trump 57%, Biden 41%; 2022: Dahle 62%, Newsom 38%) and therefore must be punished for the apostasy? Does it have anything to do with Plumas County being 90% white in a state which is now majority-minority?

Lizette Naverette, the interim deputy chancellor of the California Community Colleges expressed surprise at the letter, and she wondered aloud if this wasn’t indeed a stalling mechanism used to give Cal Poly Humboldt more time to launch their own program. She acknowledged that other community colleges are encountering the same roadblocks when trying to create bachelor’s programs in health fields (you think California can’t use a whole lot more nurses, technicians, and assorted healthcare workers?) and other disciplines which actually lead to good jobs.

Progressive Democrats, especially those in the Golden State, like to pontificate a great deal about “equity,” a nebulous and malleable concept which seems to align perfectly with whatever desired outcome the left currently has its eyes set upon. Certainly it ought to mean creating educational opportunities in rural parts of the state commensurate to the needs of those local communities, but when that runs afoul of the territorial nature of a progressivism’s biggest backers, well, those wildfires are just going to have to burn a few more seasons.

– JVW

34 Responses to “Fire Protection Takes a Back Seat to Higher Education Turf Wars in Progressive California”

  1. I just have to laugh whenever progressive Democrats along with their teachers union allies and lobbyists for the establishment try to claim that their top priority is educating students and not protecting jobs within the public education cartel. It seems that every single step they take undermines that bogus claim.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  2. Humboldt County isn’t exactly being scouted as the location for the next Baywatch reboot

    But maybe Green Acres.

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  3. This is really awful, and yet so typical of California. I think you may be onto something regarding the demographics of the area. Sadly. This move reveals the selectiveness of the 2021 program for community colleges. Here is a list of the baccalaureate degree programs offered at the state’s community colleges.

    I knew a young gal who went to Humboldt to study nursing, and midway through the program, the school shut it down. Bureaucratic nonsense, blaming state budget cuts and management, etc. According to this girl, she struggled to find placement elsewhere as HSU repeatedly failed to follow through on her behalf, as well as dozens of others, and they literally shut down all related offices so that students were just left to figure it out on their own. This after having already paid tuition…

    Dana (560c99)

  4. This is what bureaucrats do. Turf wars and budgets trump student needs. The community colleges should be free to offer B.A. degrees in anything they want.

    The marketplace will decide what a community college degree in, say, Network Management is worth. If the state colleges cannot compete on quality over price, or job placement over price, then maybe that will bring their prices down a bit.

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  5. 3. And I think it would be difficult to transfer credit. All nursing programs are different in the nursing courses.

    I know someone who flunked out (I believe) of one nursing program then she went to another where she did better. The earlier experience helped even though no credit was applied.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

  6. Kevin M — 5/1/2023 @ 2:40 pm

    Rather than maintain a system based on 2-yr. v 4-yr. post-HS ed competition, in the last several years, multiple Colorado 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities have coordinated on a system of credit transfer using “articulation agreements” whereby designated 2-year college credits may be fully transferable to the 4-year schools.
    Our 4-year universities are at their highest enrollments ever, and for the schools it’s a mutually-beneficial system for maximizing facility use and capacity for the greatest number of students.

    See here for more info:

    https://cccs.edu/transfer/

    ColoComment (8c3482)

  7. Federal and state student loan/grant programs distort the tuition markets. The more loans/grants are available, the more universities can raise tuition, followed by demands for loan forgiveness. Reduce the amount of free (or subsidized) money for students should result in lower tuitions.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  8. Rip Murdock (d2a2a8) — 5/1/2023 @ 4:42 pm

    Another problem was that society claimed that you need to have a college degree to be successful, and that states mandated that state universities provide a space (somewhere in their systems) for every student who wished to go go college, merit be darned.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  9. Rather than maintain a system based on 2-yr. v 4-yr. post-HS ed competition, in the last several years, multiple Colorado 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities have coordinated on a system of credit transfer using “articulation agreements” whereby designated 2-year college credits may be fully transferable to the 4-year schools.

    California is actually going through the same process. In the past it has been a mess, because courses at some community colleges might transfer to some of the University of California system schools and most of the California State University schools, yet other courses might only transfer to the CSUs, and there were even some courses which might transfer to a UC but not to a CSU. And each community college (or in some cases, community college systems) had to reach its own separate articulation agreement with both UC and CSU. Apparently they are now undergoing a multi-year process whereby the course outlines for all transferable courses at the community colleges will be standardized, so that there will be uniformity of articulation across all community colleges and all UC and CSU schools. I’m sure we’ll manage to screw it up, though.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  10. Another problem was that society claimed that you need to have a college degree to be successful, and that states mandated that state universities provide a space (somewhere in their systems) for every student who wished to go go college, merit be darned.

    Yes, and the other big mistake was to give universities a monopoly on the licensing for certain jobs. For instance, you have to have a degree to get a teaching certificate in California, you can’t apprentice yourself as a classroom assistant in kindergarten for X number of years and then become a kindergarten teacher of your own. This means that the university systems (CSUs here in California) can lard up your course of study with all sort of social justice and critical race theory claptrap, which you must endure before getting your degree and thus your license.

    And this stuff goes on in other disciplines outside of education, such as nursing, counseling, social work, etc. If I am not mistaken, in California you are still not allowed to sit for the bar exam unless you have a bona fide law degree. So much for future Abraham Lincolns out there. I think that separating the credentialing institution from the licensing agency would be a positive step.

    JVW (1ad43e)

  11. Community college is a great option for a lot of students. There is an unfortunate snob issue among parents and some kids want the full 4 yr college experience, but it’s economical and also give the opportunity for public/private partnerships and direct pipelines into jobs. The main thing I would do, though, is add more student support to make sure students are taking the right course to lead to the degree they want and not accidentally end up in classes that sound good but aren’t really leading where they want to go. (and more math tutoring)

    As far as certification goes, maybe we can start by accepting certifications from out of state. We’ve had some really good paraprofessionals who would make good teachers (and some who went on to do so) and some who could barely follow direct instructions from the teacher. I was doing after school homework club one year and had a para who was supposed to come in and help, but she couldn’t even figure out how to use the index or the glossary in the history book. Even elementary school is more complex in subjects and teaching than it used to be. The most useful thing, IMO, is to go back to letting teachers get certified as part of their 4 years of undergrad instead of making them pay for an extra year in grad school, often at for profit online universities that are really just pay for play.

    Nic (896fdf)

  12. California is actually going through the same process.

    The problem remains, as you point out, that students in plaes that are not served by a UC or CSU campus must incur greater expenses to attend (and higher tuition, fees &tc).

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  13. BTW, this is the kind of thing that feeds people into the for-profit schools.

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  14. maybe we can start by accepting certifications from out of state.

    There are lots of professions other than teaching where this applies. There is a whole system of Balkanized certification to prevent competition for jobs from out of state. Some of it may have some basis (e.g. bar associations & state laws), but acupuncture or barbering?

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  15. As far as certification goes, maybe we can start by accepting certifications from out of state. We’ve had some really good paraprofessionals who would make good teachers (and some who went on to do so) and some who could barely follow direct instructions from the teacher.

    Good call, Nic. As I recall, California up until a few years ago was refusing to accept out of state nursing licenses and allowing those nurses to practice here. All of the other Western states had a consortium where reciprocity was granted to licensed nurses, but California was the lone holdout. Why? Because the nurse’s union in California doesn’t want the competition.

    This might have changed since COVID; I know there was some pressure even on the union-owned Democrats in the legislature to pass legislation which would fix this, but I don’t know if it ended up passing.

    JVW (76afe6)

  16. As I recall, California up until a few years ago was refusing to accept out of state nursing licenses and allowing those nurses to practice here.

    Not only does this prevent people from moving in, it prevents people from moving out since those other states generally reciprocate rejection as well. It would be interesting to see this system attacked in the federal courts — a lot of it does not have a rational basis. I think that IJ is trying.

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  17. > suggested that Feather Ridge “pause” their application for the bachelors degree so that — and here comes flying the bureaucrat-speak — “an intersegmental workgroup [can] convene in order to discuss a resolution process for disputes and further define the duplicative consultation processes, and to better define program duplication.” That seems to be the long-winded way of writing “stay in your lane, community college, and don’t try to encroach on the CSU’s territory.”

    Huh? I read it as being the long-winded way of writing “hey, here’s a conflict we hadn’t anticipated, let’s get a group together and put together a consensus around a process to resolve this issue permanently rather than on an ad-hoc basis”.

    > Why are Democrats in the legislature so hostile to community colleges?

    I don’t think Democrats in the legislature are *hostile* to community colleges, per se. I think they consider community colleges to be *lesser*, producing a less good outcome for students than the same program at a cal state.

    I think they’re *wrong* — the community colleges are the lifeblood of the system — but I don’t understand why you are attributing malice when stupidity suffices.

    > Is it because Plumas County votes Republican (2020: Trump 57%, Biden 41%; 2022: Dahle 62%, Newsom 38%) and therefore must be punished for the apostasy? Does it have anything to do with Plumas County being 90% white in a state which is now majority-minority?

    I doubt it. I think it’s more that Plumas County is thinly populated — it’s got a population of 19,000 — and therefore the special concerns of the county are simply irrelevant at the level of the state, and the state has a terrible track record caring about the concerns of such small populations. It’s not a partisan thing, or a racial thing, so much as it is that the people living in and representing urban agglomerations of millions of people simply aren’t willing to spend the time to grasp the particular needs of tiny communities in sparsely populated regions of the state.

    What I find baffling here is that anyone would think the northeast coast (also thinly populated) and the sierra are close enough for the two schools to be in competition. It would make way more sense to me if the cal state involved were Chico.

    aphrael (896740)

  18. >If I am not mistaken, in California you are still not allowed to sit for the bar exam unless you have a bona fide law degree.

    On the other hand, California accredits a large number of law schools which are not ABA-approved, and this actually makes it easier to take the bar exam here than in many jurisdictions.

    aphrael (896740)

  19. > that students in plaes that are not served by a UC or CSU campus must incur greater expenses to attend (and higher tuition, fees &tc).

    There should be few such places, and the number of students living in such places is tiny.

    It’s true that there’s no CSU in the far northeast, but (again) the total population in the part of the northeast that isn’t in driving distance of CSU Chico is less than 50,000. Similarly, there’s no CSU in the high desert, but the total population which isn’t in driving distance of either CSU Bakersfield or CSU San Bernardino is negligible.

    The people who have the biggest complaint in this regard are probably the residents of the Imperial Valley; neither San Bernardino nor San Diego are really a reasnable drive, and the population there (unlike other underserved areas) is substantial.

    A CSU or UC requires a certain population base to sustain it. So does a community college, but the required population base for a community college is *smaller*, because the colleges are smaller and do fewer things.

    aphrael (896740)

  20. Feather River College Receives Final State Approval for New Ecosystem Restoration & Applied Fire Management Bachelor’s Degree

    Apparently Feather River college pushed it through as Humboldt/State college system was stalling

    Angelo (e28841)

  21. @20: There should be few such places, and the number of students living in such places is tiny.

    Yes, but as per JVW’s post that situation EXACTLY obtains at the JC in question.

    @18: Huh? I read it as being the long-winded way of writing “hey, here’s a conflict we hadn’t anticipated, let’s get a group together and put together a consensus around a process to resolve this issue permanently rather than on an ad-hoc basis”.

    No, this is bureaucrat-speak for “Get off my lawn!”

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  22. > Yes, but as per JVW’s post that situation EXACTLY obtains at the JC in question.

    Yes-ish. It’s only 100 miles from Feather River college to Chico State, which is a doable drive in summer — the problem is the roads are closed in winter, which makes it impossible.

    Note that I agree that the state should approve the program at Feather River, my disagreement here is with the notion that the state should put a CSU/UC in a thinly populated area that can’t support it with local students, or that there is anything nefarious in the state not choosing to do so.

    aphrael (896740)

  23. Good to hear from you, aphrael, and thanks for your thoughts on the issue. I don’t know that the relatively small population of Plumas County and the surrounding counties is an adequate reason to require them to travel several hundred miles for a state-sponsored university education. It seems to me akin to the idea that if there isn’t a grocery store or hospital in an “underserved” community then the people in that community ought to just walk, bus, or drive a few miles to a neighboring community for those services.

    Also, even though the populations of those areas are small, the wildfires have such a huge effect on the entire state that it makes sense to ensure that there are highly-trained fire management professionals in that area. And given the widespread availability of online learning these days, it’s just really hard justifying making students incur those travel costs, especially if they might be non-traditional students and be older, perhaps with families of their own. At a minimum, Cal Poly Humboldt ought to be looking into partnering with some of the local community colleges like Feather River to hold university-sponsored programs at the local colleges. But it just seems to me that it’s higher education turf wars that are taking precedence over educating students.

    JVW (662fcc)

  24. Note that I agree that the state should approve the program at Feather River, my disagreement here is with the notion that the state should put a CSU/UC in a thinly populated area that can’t support it with local students, or that there is anything nefarious in the state not choosing to do so.

    Oh, I’m sorry, I misunderstood you. I absolutely agree that there shouldn’t be a new CSU or UC campus in remote parts of the state. I’m not sure the UC Merced campus was necessary, for example, but I know the Central Valley folks demanded their own UC campus. I simply believe that students from rural areas should not be required to relocate for a degree if it can be obtained locally, and the CSUs should partner with rather than compete against rural community colleges.

    JVW (6128da)

  25. >At a minimum, Cal Poly Humboldt ought to be looking into partnering with some of the local community colleges like Feather River to hold university-sponsored programs at the local colleges.

    Oh, absolutely, although *Humboldt* should not be partnering with *Feather River* — *Chico* should be.

    To get from Feather River to Humboldt you have to cross two mountain ranges and the central valley, and that’s just ridiculous.

    aphrael (896740)

  26. In California, Desperate College Students Compete for Spots in Trailer Park
    ……….
    California has long prided itself for having some of the most highly regarded public universities in the nation—some of which are in wealthy, scenic coastal communities like Berkeley, Santa Barbara and Santa Cruz.

    But housing costs have soared in the state over the past decade due to a lack of new construction, making it difficult for some students to live close enough to those universities to attend them.

    “That promise of an accessible public education is threatened because the housing costs are so enormous,” said Steven McKay, a sociology professor at (University of California Santa Cruz). “It’s just making it really, really difficult for our working class students.”

    Between July 2021 and April 2022, the University of California assisted an estimated 3,165 students struggling with food and housing, a 15% increase from the year before, according to a report by university officials to state legislators. The system’s 10 campuses enroll nearly 300,000 students.
    ………

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  27. Oh, absolutely, although *Humboldt* should not be partnering with *Feather River* — *Chico* should be.

    Except in this case it’s Humboldt, not Chico, which has the fire management program (or at least is in the process of starting one up). The question of whether we need that program at both Humboldt and Chico is an open one.

    JVW (b7b852)

  28. UC Santa Cruz (note: they’re my alma mater) made the idiotic decision to dramatically increase enrollment without building enough on-campus housing to cover it, and the community is so anti-growth that it isn’t really allowing any new construction. This outcome was inevitable, and it lies squarely on the idiots in the administration.

    aphrael (c15530)

  29. UC Santa Cruz (note: they’re my alma mater) made the idiotic decision to dramatically increase enrollment without building enough on-campus housing to cover it, and the community is so anti-growth that it isn’t really allowing any new construction. This outcome was inevitable, and it lies squarely on the idiots in the administration.

    aphrael (c15530) — 5/2/2023 @ 11:51 am

    I wouldn’t mind one of the trailers.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)

  30. the notion that the state should put a CSU/UC in a thinly populated area that can’t support it with local students, or that there is anything nefarious in the state not choosing to do so.

    I wasn’t aware anyone was arguing that. Simply allowing BA degrees from some JCs in areas of local interest, even if some distant CSU offered a similar degree. Is the CSU degree “better”? I think that’s for the job market to decide. That forestry degree from the forest community college may be better than one from a coastal CSU.

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  31. This outcome was inevitable, and it lies squarely on the idiots in the administration.

    It’s shared by the aging hippies who think the world stopped when they moved in.

    Kevin M (f94f4f)

  32. I blogged about Berkeley’s no-growth locals pitted up against the UC’s desire to expand a little over a year ago. If anything, faced with stalling population growth and faced further with a projected absolute decline in high school graduates, California should be looking to downsize higher education, unless they think they can make up for the shortages with out of state students.

    (Certainly the state’s top public universities like UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, etc., have no need to downsize. But given their difficulties in housing students, faculty, and staff, perhaps this is the point at which they should cap enrollments and employment for the foreseeable future.)

    JVW (c1953e)

  33. the notion that the state should put a CSU/UC in a thinly populated area that can’t support it with local students…..

    The only reason UC Merced was created in 2005 was that there was no UC campus but three Cal State schools (Fresno, Bakersfield, and Stanislaus) in the Central Valley. It’s all politics.

    Rip Murdock (d2a2a8)


Powered by WordPress.

Page loaded in: 0.0898 secs.