I am running for the Board of Trustees of the Contra Costa Community College (CCCC) District because the work ahead requires strong leadership with an innovative vision for solutions for the students and residents of Contra Costa County. And now is the time for change!
It's about education, but it’s also about the economy and jobs. We need our community colleges to adapt more quickly and efficiently to help our region recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.
My campaign platform focuses on four priorities:
Educational Excellence and Equity
Community Colleges were designed to be two-year public institutions for exploring careers or transferring to a four-year institution. Currently, the ratio of faculty available to teach the courses to meet student demand and enrollment numbers is not sufficient and makes completing programs within the two-years difficult. In addition, the number of faculty, administrators, classified staff, and students are sorely underrepresented according to the demographics of the communities the District serves. Data shows that these gaps in leadership positions and key campus representatives can potentially lead to lower student retention and/or graduation rates and resulting in lower funding for critical student services.
Over the past five years, there has not been a permanent District Chancellor or a President for Contra Costa College and without the consistency of effective top level leadership, the District has not advanced key equity initiatives. Key initiatives I will focus on include:
increasing student access to higher education reflective of the demographics the District serves
developing equity promotion programs for hiring faculty, administrators and classified staff
creating strategic public/private partnerships to collectively work with campuses on solid solutions to address these issues
I view “educational excellence and equity” to begin with making students the number one priority and finding solutions to the issues students need to succeed. When Contra Costa Community College students succeed - so do our communities. As the California Community Colleges promise, “it should provide students with life-changing opportunities and a clear path to their goals, whether it’s transferring to a four-year college or university or seeking critical job-training skills.”
The diversity of students is a broad reflection of our community. They represent the recent high school graduates facing an unknown world, to re-entry students who may have lost their jobs and are now returning to college to improve their lives. They also include single parents trying to balance life choices, to veterans dealing with homelessness challenges, to those retraining for a new career. It is no surprise that part-time students represent 68% of the student body. By virtue of their structure to serve as the higher education gateway for all student constituencies, community colleges are in the best position to address equity gaps and income inequality with a quality education that meets the diverse needs of our communities.
I am committed to ensuring all CCCC students have access to a world-class education and adequate support services. I am committed to addressing faculty diversity through strategic hiring practices and developing promotion plans that charts success. I will also collaborate with the CCCC District Board of Trustees to engage students, faculty, staff, and other community stakeholders to achieve the tangible goals of access, representation, and inclusivity that are currently outlined in the District Plan.
Preparing the Future Workforce and
Creating a Vibrant Economy
Before COVID-19, there was already a shortage of skilled workers with college degrees or career technical certifications for various professions. With the impact of COVID-19, we face another changing job shift with the unemployment rate growing at 13% for Contra Costa County. Community colleges will be the hope for current students and those unemployed to find new career paths or join the essential workers on the frontlines of this pandemic. To achieve a prosperous economy, these efforts must include the diversity of our communities.
I view community colleges as doors of opportunity for students from all backgrounds to pursue their chosen academic and career technical pathways. He understands community colleges play a critical role in advancing the economy by providing students with prerequisite courses necessary to transfer to four-year universities or to complete a technical career certification program. Ultimately, preparing our students with the academic and job skill sets to meet the employer needs and leading to strengthening our economy.
The District needs to readjust curriculums and workforce development programs to better serve the county’s immediate economic recovery. There also needs to be immediate support for a broader academic plan that supports student online learning for the fall semester and strategies for in-class instruction for Spring semester 2021. To meet the urgent demand for certain essential worker certification programs, I would explore working with the State Community College Chancellor’s Office to expedite approval and the accreditation for these specific programs.
I recognize that it is important to address the COVID-19 impact on the budgets of higher educational institutions, but I also understand our communities will eventually emerge from the pandemic and move towards economic recovery. Two-year community college systems are in the best position to help our communities get back to work. It will be critical to prioritize closing the digital divide and to provide career pathways for essential work sectors such as nursing, law enforcement, firefighting, emergency medical technicians, respiratory therapists among others. Our community colleges will play a central role in preparing skilled workers to fulfill jobs in the post-Covid era.
Fiscal Accountability and Transparency
The impact of Covid-19 on the Community College District has underscored a lack of cohesive strategy due to possible reductions in funding approved by the State. It has also highlighted the need for each campus to plan for distance learning or hybrid instruction and has tested the overall readiness for the faculty to address community impacts and student hardships associated with these changes. I will see to it that district policies and budget as well as individual campus priorities are aligned with the responsibilities of the Board and the Community College League of California (CCLC) - and that we clearly communicate them to the public. I pledge to always communicate decisions governing the future of our students to our shared community - YOU! - in a clear, consistent, and transparent manner.
The Community College District is managed by a shared governance plan enacted in accordance with Assembly Bill (AB) 1725 (1988). This shared governance structure ensures that faculty, staff, students, and managers of the Contra Costa Community College District have the right to participate effectively in district and college governance. Decisions made by the District are guided by policies that are intended to be developed in an inclusive and transparent manner. Changes in state regulations are reviewed by the CCLC, which holds annual Legislative Conferences to engage with members and the State Legislature. Together, these stakeholders discuss priority issues, collaborate on best practices, review effective strategies, and ultimately make recommendations on state mandates and how they are implemented. It is of utmost importance that the District implements these recommendations in a timely and consistent manner. As your Board Member, I will ensure that this is a priority.
Community Outreach and Partnerships
I will put “Community” back into “Community Colleges District.” I will develop outreach efforts that engage government agencies, school districts, civic groups, businesses, labor, faith-based, philanthropic, and community-based organizations to work cooperatively to advance educational opportunities, meaningful student internships, mentorship programs, and career pathways for all.
At present, the District lacks a strong plan for including community voices, nor does it have an inclusive process for stakeholder engagement. Although individual campuses partner with local businesses for career technical training, there is a gap in overall engagement and strategy from the District. There is a lack of understanding of what the evolving needs are for the overwhelming majority of small businesses in Contra Costa County. This deficit in local engagement leads to the unfortunate reality that students who are employed on a part-time basis are forced to travel great distances, and spend valuable time and money in the process. This negatively impacts these students’ ability to complete their educational goals in a timely and efficient manner.
Having a strong workforce preparation initiative and setting aside a fund for the creation of innovative programs and the vocational classes of the future is a key precursor toward the District’s ability to prepare our students for the demands of today’s economy and the needs of tomorrow’s workforce.
As your trustee, I will champion a districtwide commitment to new funding streams which will transform our community colleges to become a model of the future. I will be a leading voice in ensuring that we support the workforce needs of tomorrow and that students are equipped with skill sets that will prepare them for these opportunities. I will develop a community outreach and partnership program that leads to the anchoring of employment opportunities around campus, so that students have a one stop shop to earn academic credits and get trained for the workplace of tomorrow in a supportive and accessible environment.