It must have felt like a victory-lap back to San Diego for State Senator Marty Block. The Democrat had just left Sacramento for home and was carrying with him a big legislative win. For some time Block has been trying to move through the legislature a bill to create Bachelor Degrees at Community Colleges. The first two times he failed. He believes that's because the economy was so bad then that his fellow legislators weren't in the mood to add more programs while they were faced with having to cut them.
This year was different. It was apparently the year for SB850. This is a bill that creates a six-year pilot program that would offer Bachelor Degrees at 15 yet unchosen schools. Although there other states that do this, it would be a first for California. Block calls it "a gamechanger."
There would be limitations. None of the new programs could be similar to anything being offered in the University of California or Cal State systems. So, no four-year degrees in sociology, history, math, engineering... that sort of thing. That's still for the UC and CSUs. Most of the programs, if not all, would be vocational or technical. Block says this could be anything from dental hygeine to something associated with law enforcement.
Ultimately, the Senator hopes that the pilot program will lead to many community colleges around the state offering these programs. Block says it used to be that many vocational and technical jobs required only two year programs, but that's changing and there are more jobs popping up that workers qualified for them.
Another important point is that, according to Block, many of these degree programs are being taught by "for profit" colleges. He says many of those programs are not good. And, as we've seen, come of those colleges have gone belly up. Block adds that those "for profit" colleges can charge $40,000 for their four year program. His plan makes the community college degree program more like $10,000.
The next step is for Governor Jerry Brown to sign the bill. If he does, the program could begin as early as next year. The Governor could sign the bill as early as next week.