CFT calls for immediately shutting down failed Calbright College following scathing State Auditor report
Report follows UNANIMOUS vote in California Assembly last week to eliminate the college

News Release

For Immediate Release
May 11, 2021
Contact: Matthew Hardy, 510-703-5291

SACRAMENTO, CA — Today, the California State Auditor released a scathing report, detailing the many failures of Calbright, the state’s troubled online-only college. The report details low student graduation rates, questionable hiring practices, lack of accountability, lack of student support, and failure to reach milestones set by the California Legislature.

According to CFT President Jeff Freitas, it is time to immediately shut down the failed college.

“The State Auditor’s report clearly shows that it is time to shut down the failed experiment of Calbright College,” says Freitas. “Everything that Calbright claims to provide for students is already being done at our established community colleges, with lower costs and far better results. Instead of continuing to waste scarce public resources on the failed Calbright College, those resources should immediately be used to invest in our established community colleges.”

Calbright’s failures are well known in Sacramento. Last week the California Assembly voted 71-0 in support of AB 1432 (Low), which would eliminate Calbright College at the end of the 2022-23 school year. 

“We hope the unanimous vote by the Assembly and the scathing state auditors report will compel the Senate and the Governor to immediately pull the plug on Calbright College,” continues Freitas.

Calbright failures highlighted in the State Auditor report: (FACT sheet here)

  • Out of 904 enrolled students, 384 students have dropped out and 87 students have been inactive for over 90 days, while only 12 students have graduated.
  • Calbright is significantly behind in meeting “Legislature specified milestones” and “risks failing to achieve its mission…”
  • Calbright is failing in its hiring. “Nine of the 14 hiring decisions we reviewed were problematic because Calbright either did not conduct competitive hiring processes or gave preferential treatment to certain candidates.”
  • “Ultimately, Calbright’s staffing decisions resulted in a substantial lack of public education experience or even broader public sector experience across key positions.”
  • “Calbright cannot demonstrate that it provided the support the students needed to succeed because under its former executive team, it was slow to develop a process for doing so…”
  • “In short, Calbright is not yet adequately achieving its core purpose: enrolling adult students who cannot otherwise obtain postsecondary education, guiding them through completion of a program that provides industry-valued credentials, and helping them secure employment.”
  • “The Board of Governors also approved salaries for many of those individuals that were well above the next highest salaries in the community college system for comparable positions. …some contract awards appear to have been motivated by personal or professional connections.”
  • On spending: “…the purpose of its spending to date is unclear, and both the public and the Legislature are unable to effectively assess its progress.”
  • “The Legislature created Calbright to provide working adults with access to flexible postsecondary education that will position them to obtain well-paying jobs. However, as Figure 3 shows, Calbright has failed to take critical steps necessary to achieve that mission.”
  • Job placement: “Calbright has neither established a plan for helping its students obtain jobs after graduation nor has it tracked whether its programs are effective in helping graduates secure jobs.”
  • Failure to help vulnerable students: “Calbright further lacks clear strategies for reaching its target student population, and its enrollment of some of these demographic groups lags behind that of other community colleges.”
  • Failure from the beginning: “After Calbright’s first year of instruction, the majority of students who had enrolled had either dropped out or stopped progressing in their programs.”
  • “…Calbright has failed to produce a clear path toward employment for its students.”
  • “Calbright does not collect data to know whether its students are…Having difficulty accessing traditional community colleges, employed, responsible for the care of dependent children or adults, low-income, veterans, immigrants, incarcerated or formerly incarcerated.”

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CFT – A Union of Educators and Classified Professionals represents 120,000 teachers, faculty, and school employees in public and private schools and colleges, from early childhood through higher education. It is the statewide affiliate of the AFT.