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Published on Sep 21, 2011
As former Stanford University president Ray Lyman Wilbur put it into his introductory letter to William Proctor's 1927 book, The Junior College:
"[Junior college] provides for those who have neither the capacity to profit by university instruction nor the necessary financial backing the chance to round out their education by two years of work of college grade, given usually in smaller classes and with more personal supervision than is possible in the larger colleges and universities of the country."
This mantra still rings true for community colleges today. California's community colleges now educate nearly 2.9 million students each year, preparing them for transfer to four-year universities, training them in workforce-relevant skills, and providing continuing education opportunities. Classes remain small and instructors dedicated. Community colleges have also grown to include a wide range of support services for both students and the community, enlarging their role beyond the original scope.
Doug Nielson, a government and economics teacher at Coalinga High School, said he was frustrated after visiting the offices of Republican lawmakers whom he said seemed more concerned with adhering to their ideology than addressing what he called a crisis in public education.
"If we stick to our ideologies, our children are going to suffer," Nielson said. "When somebody says well, extending these taxes is a tax increase, you've got a mindset there that says the dollars are more important than the kids. And they can't be. We can't afford to do that. You can't have first-class teaching on a Third World budget."
Republican legislative leaders were pointing to an unexpected $2.5 billion in extra tax revenue that came to the state last month as a way to fully fund education without having to extend the recent tax increases.