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Calbright College Gets Reprieve After Calls for Closure

July 13, 2021
 
 

The California Senate Education Committee canceled a hearing on the bill that would have dismantled Calbright, the first all-online community college in California. The hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, EdSource reported.

“Our team met with a number of the committee members and their staff, and our message of why we are here and who we are ultimately serving resonated with them,” Calbright president Ajita Talwalker Menon said during a Board of Trustees meeting Monday.

The bill, which would have abolished the college by the end of 2022-23, passed unanimously in the California Assembly in May. A state audit that month also found that Calbright graduated just 12 out of over 900 enrolled students during the 2019-20 academic year. The auditor also critiqued leaders for a lack of strategic planning for state funding but ultimately concluded that college leaders should have until the end of 2022 to improve the institution.

Critics of Calbright have questioned the need for the college since it was founded in 2019. The bill was the second legislative attempt to shut down Calbright, following a similar push last year. The state Legislature agreed on a 2020-21 state budget that would defund the college, but California governor Gavin Newsom came out in support of the institution.

Jerry Brown, California's previous governor, praised the committee for its decision to prolong the life of the college.

“For state government, Calbright represents a very bold educational initiative,” Brown said in an email to EdSource. “The Senate Education Committee did the right thing and put the interests of hardworking Californians first by shelving this ill-conceived legislative maneuver.”

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