In California overcrowding and underfunding has made it impossible for many community college students to get into the packed courses they need for job training or transfers to a four-year college. Since 2009, 300,000 fewer students have enrolled in California community colleges, and many cite the difficulty to find positions in these courses as a main problem.
The situation isn’t getting better. In the state’s 2012 budget, community colleges lost $564 million and in the wake of these cuts have reduced course offerings by 20 percent. But one community college has found an innovative way to solve their problems.
This summer, Santa Monica College will implement something of a two-tier system for students to pay for different courses. Students can secure spots in the courses which are most in demand if they pay a higher fee. While this may solve the problem of overcrowded classrooms, not everybody thinks this is a good idea.
In this conversation we listen to Pedro Noguera and Martin Goldstein debate the merits and pitfalls of this innovative approach. Pedro Noguera is sociology professor and head of the Metropolitan Center for Urban Education at New York University and Martin Goldstein is professor of communications at Santa Monica Community College.