As we conclude a surreal academic year upended by pandemic and as we brace for more challenges ahead, the California Community Colleges can take great pride in the response to COVID-19.
Our colleges brought the largest higher education system in the country from offering 18% of its instruction online to virtually 100% online in a matter of weeks. It wasn’t easy, but faculty, students and staff stepped up to help one another during these hard times.
Many answered the call and joined the frontline response to COVID-19 -- one of the most severe public health crises our country faced in 100 years.
And through all of these challenges, our colleges made significant progress in meeting critical goals of increasing completion and closing achievement gaps.
The number of community college students who earn college credentials increased by 20% over the past two years, meeting one of six goals outlined in the Vision for Success ahead of schedule. And colleges are making progress toward meeting the other goals. This includes narrowing achievement gaps among students of color and those who live in poorer regions of our state.
None of what we achieved would have been possible without resilience, sacrifice and the willingness to work together toward a common purpose.
The tremendous responses from our colleges demonstrate our system’s agility in collaborating and quickly pivoting to deliver for our students.
Recognizing the urgency of this moment, we must continue to ensure our education system is responsive to emerging needs. As we consider the economic recovery, our colleges are connecting unemployed and under employed workers to career education opportunities.
We’re increasing flexibility in the way we structure courses, credit and support to meet the needs of an older and increasingly diverse student population. We’re collaborating with government and advocacy partners to help students afford secure housing and food, so they can focus on learning and reaching their goals.
We are the lowest-funded education system, yet the most consequential for equity and access. Flexibility to mitigate the impact of budget reductions on our students will be critical.
Above all, we must stay committed to our goals and the commitment to make the California Community Colleges the gateway to civic and economic prosperity for all Californians.