Chaotic Enrollment Patterns at Community Colleges

Students at two-year institutions display "astounding variation" in their patterns of enrollment, according to a new study by the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College. The research, which tracked more than 14,000 students at five community colleges over 18 semesters, showed that students often switch back and forth between full- and part-time status. They also regularly spent time away from being enrolled. Continuous enrollment was particularly linked to earning an associate degree, according to the research, while full-time enrollment was associated with transfer to four-year institutions.

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Nonprofit group Single Stop helps low-income students avoid financial barriers

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For many needy college students, finishing degrees starts with applying for food stamps or filling out a federal tax form.

Faculty Union Complaint on Accreditor Moves to Feds

The California Federation of Teachers and other employee unions have filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education over the actions of a regional accreditor, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. The unions had previously lodged their concerns directly with the commission, which accredits California's two-year colleges and is an arm of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. They alleged that the accreditor had acted improperly in slapping a severe sanction on City College of San Francisco -- which faces possible closure -- as well as in its oversight of other community colleges. The commission last week rejected those claims, saying it has followed procedures. So the unions this week asked the Education Department to force the commission to respond more fully to the complaint.

Suit Challenges Election System for Lone Star College Board

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday says that Lone Star College's system for electing its Board of Trustees discriminates against minority citizens, The Houston Chronicle reported. Lone Star has at-large elections where the entire community college district's area is used to elect all board members for the community college system. The suit argues that no Hispanic trustees and very few black trustees have ever been elected, even though 30 percent of the district population is Latino and 16 percent is black. Subdividing the system district into areas would probably result in a more diverse board, the suit says. Lone Star officials said that they had not been formally served with papers, and could not comment on the suit.


CUNY Faculty Vote No Confidence in Transfer Program

Tenure-track faculty members at the City University of New York have voted overwhelmingly that they have no confidence in Pathways, a controversial curricular shift in the CUNY system designed to make it easier for students at its community colleges to transfer to four-year colleges and in two additional years earn bachelor's degrees. More than 60 percent of eligible voters participated in the no confidence vote, and 92 percent of those voted no confidence. While the goal of smooth transfer from community colleges to four-year colleges is one that is generally endorsed by faculty members and administrators alike, many professors have spoken out against the way this is being done. Some have complained about specific changes in requirements, while others have questioned whether too much control of curricular matters has shifted away from department and college faculties. "It should be clear now, if it was not before, that CUNY should not move forward with Pathways. A 92 percent vote of no confidence is a mandate for change," said a statement issued Saturday by Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress, the faculty union, which organized the vote.

CUNY officials have defended Pathways as a needed reform to help more students earn bachelor's degrees. The system maintains a webpage with information about the program here.

While a number of adjunct leaders at CUNY have spoken out against Pathways, some have also criticized the vote of no confidence for excluding their participation.



Calif. Accreditor Says It Followed Procedures in Review of City College of San Francisco

The agency that accredits California's two-year colleges says that its review of the process it followed in evaluating City College of San Francisco found no irregularities, rebuffing allegations made last month in a complaint filed last month by several employee unions. The massive complaint filed by the unions made a wide range of charges against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, including that the review of CCSF by the two-year arm of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges was tainted by conflicts of interest and in violation of state and federal laws. The report said the review by the commission's executive committee found the complaint to be "without merit." A spokesman for the California Federation of Teachers called the accreditor's report a "non-response" that was "completely predictable," and said the union was weighing its next steps.

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'Audit' at Monroe Community College finds officials were over-communicating with students

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Ever wonder why students ignore important messages? One college figured out that less may be more when it comes to communication.

Consequences of racial and economic stratification in community colleges

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Segregation in higher education remains largely ignored, but two new studies show increasing concentrations of disadvantaged students at community colleges can affect completion rates.

InsideTrack's student coaching proves completion payoff

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Student coaching appears to pay off by boosting retention and graduation rates. Does outsourcing coaching make sense if a private company does it best?

Push for Tiered Tuition at California Community Colleges

The California Assembly on Monday passed a bill that would authorize community colleges to charge out-of-state tuition to in-state residents for some courses during the summer and winter terms, The Sacramento Bee reported. The idea is that some students are able and willing to pay much more for courses at a time that the community college system can't create enough sections to meet student demand. But the concept -- tried and then abandoned last year by Santa Monica College -- angers many who see it as inconsistent with the mission of community colleges to offer quality education for all. The new chancellor of the state's community college system has questioned both the philosophy and legality of two tiered tuition.

Das Williams, author of the bill passed Monday, said that he realized that the legislation wasn't perfect, but he said something needs to be done to create more class sections. "Stakeholders ... want the perfect solution, and I understand why they do. But, holding out for the perfect solution when people are suffering is wrong. The conclusion I came to is it would be a failing on my part ethically to take the easy path," he said.

But Shirley Weber, another Assembly member, spoke against the bill even though she said it would help her son, a community college student. "I would never want him to believe that because mom has a little more money and this is a state-funded institution that I can afford to pay for him to have experiences faster than anyone else at the institution," she said. "For me, it's a fundamental issue of access and what the community college has stood for all these years in California."

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