Out of 904 students enrolled since 2019, only 12 graduated, and
more than 40 percent dropped out. There’s no discernable strategy
for spending the more than $175 million it receives in state
taxpayer funding. No system is in place to support students.
Shady hiring practices have led to people being selected based on
personal or political connection rather than ability.
It may have taken over two years, but the Calbright online
community college has apparently lost any support it might have
enjoyed in the state Legislature when the CFT first warned about
the potential for failure. In December 2017, Jim Mahler,
president of the CFT Community College Council,
sent a seminal letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, Calbright’s main
promoter, pointing out key flaws in its proposed structure.
Community college faculty mobilized on February 13 to let the
state Legislature know that they want the enormous resources
wasted on the Calbright online community college project
redirected to the needs of the existing, underfunded campuses
around the state. These campuses serve tens of thousands of
students, while this one project has absorbed $120 million
for fewer than 500 students.
On Monday, July 15, CFT President Jeff Freitas testified before
the Board of Trustees of CalBright, California’s new online-only
community college, sharing CFT’s continuing concerns with the
launch of the college.
During his testimony, Freitas detailed several key areas that the
online college has failed to meet its obligations and the law.
Due to the serious nature of the violations, CFT is considering
all legal options should the college not change course.
If there were perhaps one way to describe the legislative
campaign waged by CFT this year as it regards both part-timers
and the community college system, one could say it was
“spirited.” Despite the sea changes proposed for the entire
system, the union still won improvements for part-timers.
All of California’s 114 community colleges offer online courses,
so why do we need a fully online 115th college, especially a
non-union one which would hire adjuncts to work for even lower
wages, without union protections?
The $120 million the governor is budgeting for this college could
be better spent on increasing full-time positions, part-time pay
equity, and more paid part-time office hours.
Responding to Gov. Jerry Brown’s request for the
development of options for a fully online college, the California
Community Colleges on November 13 announced three options and
belatedly asked for comment from stakeholder groups.