New law delivers college classes not caste system

Under a new California law, eligible community colleges may create extension programs during winter and summer sessions with courses that are essential for students to graduate or transfer.

California Legislature Assembly Bill 955, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on Oct. 10, places six community colleges in a voluntary pilot program to create more class sections at the same cost as non-resident students, $236 per unit, significantly higher than the usual $46 per unit.

However, no low-cost classes are allowed to be cut, shrunk or displaced by these new extension classes. Also, there is no penalty if an eligible college does not participate in the program.

The bill will only help students who need to enroll in classes for transfer or graduation requirements or veterans who are having the same amount of trouble getting classes as everyone else.

Many veterans, who clearly deserve our help for keeping America safe, may not be eligible to receive the financial assistance because they must be enrolled in college courses to receive housing benefits, according to the law.

It seems there is red herring rhetoric about this law turning what is supposed to be a plan to give students more classes into something of a caste system.

Simply stated, students want more classes offered. The more open class sections the less students have to beg for an add card while they sit on dirty floors in old bungalows hoping to win the enrollment lottery.

One only needs to recall the fight more than 100 students had trying to crash a single English class last semester to fully appreciate the elegance of the new law.

It’s true that classes which cost $236 per unit is hard to swallow, but regular fee courses will be given priority over higher fee classes and they will not be offered against $46 per unit courses in the fall and spring semesters.

Within the law there are strict guidelines that state one-third of the enrollment fees must go financial aid for these classes and students eligible for regular tuition fees will be given priority registration for the extension classes.

There is no apparent harm with this law, despite the many students, faculty and staff at California community colleges who oppose it. It is easy to misunderstand the extension program, or misrepresent it.

Every college that is eligible should create extension programs under this new law. It gives students’ access to more courses they need for graduation or to fulfill benefit requirements. We are going to school to learn and grow not to fret over adding classes.