Senate bill awards occupational studies

By Van ly, Opinion Editor

Senate Bill 850 was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown and implemented into California state law on Sept. 28.
SB 850, authored by State Sen. Marty Block, allows up to 15 community college districts to have a baccalaureate degree program in a subject that is not offered by UC and CSU campuses.
The baccalaureate degrees will be geared toward students in the workforce that is high in demand.
Four-year degrees in health care and informational technology are examples of what could be offered at a community college, Contra Costa Community College District’s Director of Communications and Community Relations Timothy Leong said.
The pilot program is expected to begin in the 2017-18 academic year. Students participating in the program will need to complete his or her degree by the 2022-23 academic year.
The cost of tuition will not exceed CSU’s system-wide fees for a bachelor’s degree.
The cost of upper division coursework will be $84 per unit, according to the passed senate bill.
With the bill approved, California will join the 21 other states that already offer baccalaureate degrees at their community colleges.
In the 21 states alone, more than 50 community colleges operate almost 500 baccalaureate degree programs according to a report from the California Community College Baccalaureate Degree Study Group.
California can also begin to meet the growing demand for people searching for an education beyond an associate’s degree in the workforce.
“There is a shortage of four-year degrees in California,” nursing department Chairperson Dr. Marshall Alameida said.
California’s rank in terms of people who have a bachelor’s degree has fallen to 14th place according to the Public Policy Institute of California.
The bill cites that California needs to produce one million more baccalaureate degrees than the state currently does to remain economically competitive in the coming decades.
In state public institutions, around 110,000 bachelor’s degrees are awarded while 40,000 are awarded at private institutions.
In order to meet the demand for bachelor’s degrees, the state would need to award 60,000 bachelor’s degrees annually.
“It’s an important mission community colleges can be a part of,” Alameida said.
With 112 community colleges in California, SB 850 is also an opportunity for local residents who have kids, jobs, or any other time consuming responsibilities to earn a bachelor’s degree much quicker.
CCCCD Executive Vice Chancellor of Education and Technology Mojdeh Mehdizadeh said, “(SB 850) is an opportunity to stay in the neighborhood. Students won’t have to travel far.”
For students, such as Iris Mota, the passed senate bill will make their lives easier.
“I could still take care of my sons without so many obstacles. And at the same time, I would be able to achieve my educational goals and dreams,” Mota said.