The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

No Recovery for Community Colleges

Mar 17, 2014

On the first day of spring semester, hundreds of students at Los Angeles Valley College were shut out of their classes. Valley administrators had laid off teachers and cancelled dozens of classes for this semester – AFTER students had already enrolled in them!

The officials also cut the theater department, and the entire track and field program. They threw out four computer classes for having “low enrollment” – that is, fewer than 38 students! (Never mind that the number of computers available in a classroom limits the number of students.) The college now has a grand total of ONE physics class for its 18,000 students. And the classrooms are often filthy, because Valley officials have also reduced custodial staff drastically.

The list goes on and on. And Valley College is not alone. The number of classes in California colleges is now at a 15-year low. State officials are even threatening to close the state’s largest community college, City College of San Francisco, under the pretext that it did not get academic accreditation.

When, starting in 2008, California cut funding for community colleges drastically, officials blamed it on the recession. But it was an excuse. The real reason for the cuts has always been to free more money for the state government to hand out to big business. These most recent cuts prove that, because now officials themselves say there is money. In November 2012 California Democrats, led by Governor Jerry Brown, passed Proposition 30, a sales tax increase, with the promise that they would put more money into education. And the State of California now officially has a 4.2-billion-dollar surplus. But officials have not restored the classes they have cut – to the contrary, they happily continue to swing their heavy ax for more cuts!

On top of all this, these same officials now have a Godfather-style offer students “can’t refuse”: If you can’t get into a class you need to graduate, pay $249 per unit – instead of $46! The state legislature, controlled by the Democrats, passed a law that allows this two-tier tuition system, and it has already begun at Long Beach City College (about 25 miles south of Los Angeles) as a “pilot program.”

Five times more tuition for fewer classes available??? It’s a sure way to put working-class students in big debt – if they still want to get a college education.