San Diego – This week has been an interesting one. It was fairly quiet in class as students worked on projects in the lab or studio. But a milestone was passed anyway. On Wednesday, I presented the new program Dave and i have worked out to the curricula committee’s technical review panel. It is a truly serious professional photo program now requiring 42 credits in the discipline (plus the obligatory general education credits) for the AA degree. That finally brings us into line with the requirements of a number of other vocational programs such as architectural design and makes the degree from City College far more meaningful.
There were a few typos in the draft but with those noted for correction the program was passed by this committee and approved for the next step. That next step will take place next Wednesday and, assuming passage, will then be placed on the district board calendar for approval and then be in the catalog for next school year. In some ways it is going to require a special bit of scheduling effort since we have been cut back so drastically for sections we can offer, we will have to make sure we are offering those classes that are required. In some ways it is academic since in professional photography a degree is generally meaningless and all that counts is a photographer’s portfolio of work. But for those who want to teach or for whatever reason transfer to other schools for a 4-yr degree (since our representative tabled AB2400 to allow a pilot program in which three Community Colleges, including us, could offer a 4 year degree) this will give them a major leg up on transferees from other districts.
Our goal was always specific and simple to understand: make the photo program at City College the best. Period. We had a major boost from our world class facilities, and now we will have a world class program. The only thing holding us back is the State’s budget crisis which is likely to get worse before it gets better. I’m sorry to have to say this but California must have either the stupidest or most self-centered entitled voters in the country because year after year we vote in — in both parties — State lawmakers that see no problem in expanding state liabilities in the form of entitlement style programs the cost of which exceeds by a very large amount, even the overly anticipated revenues to pay for them. So every year the difference between the money the State has obligated itself to pay for feel good programs increasingly exceeds the revenues coming in to pay for them. The difference is made up by borrowing money. The amount needed to be borrowed increases every year. Like the Federal government which is doing the same thing, the debt service alone is reaching the point where it cannot be paid out of revenues and so the State will have to borrow MORE money simply to pay the interest in the debt it already had and is not touching the principle. And yet special interests keep asking for more.
For Community Colleges this year the new liberal governor has proposed a budget that will, when it filters through the various districts, amount to nearly a $100 million additional cut to our district’s budget. There is only one area they have attacked thus far and that is in “FTES” (Full Time Equivalent Student (credits or hours) since that directly effects the teaching load. Since City is in direct violation (as are all of the State higher educational institutions) of the mandated contract to adjunct ratios and since contract and especially tenured professors are, as long as the district can hold out and operate at all, protected from layoffs and cuts, that burden falls on the poor part time adjuncts. in our department we have two contract professors and 12 adjuncts. So as we are forced to cut class sections, guess where we have to cut? And since there is no seniority or other major criteria mandated by law or policy for adjuncts, we have to look at specific class offerings to make our decisions.
We had been told it looked like the bottom had been reached and this semester we did not have to cut more classes (for the past two years we have had to cut more classes each semester). But that was before the new governor’s proposed budget which cut far deeper into higher education than anyone expected. Now everyone is holding their breath. It should be interesting.
What was NOT cut by the governor was the bloated bureaucracy that has evolved with all of the entitlement and feel-good programs… or those programs themselves. The Snail Darters are still safe but students are not so lucky. Education is the only real bulwark against a very grim future. Without serious educational reform and improvement we will not be fielding the future workers to maintain productivity and progress for the State and for the country. Yet education seems to be an easy target and is usually one of the first to be targeted.
But, hey, the brilliant electorate voted for it knowing the career politicians involved so they will get what they paid and voted for.