California community colleges offering bachelor degrees are a leap forward

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Cartoon by Catherine Lin

Nicholas Kumamoto, Contributing Writer

On Sept. 28, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 850 into law, launching a pilot program that up to 15 of California’s community colleges to offer four-year bachelor degrees.  Under the current system, California’s community colleges are only authorized to grant two-year associate degrees, according to the Orange County Register.

This is a good move for California’s educational system, job market and economy.  It opens up higher education opportunities for more Californians.  Sherri Clarke, a legal assistant and office administrator at an Irvine law firm, and a community college graduate, could have benefitted from the new system.

“Because of financial reasons, I was unable to attend a four-year university,” Clarke said.  “I thought my community college experience [at El Camino Community College] was great, but if I would have had the opportunity to complete a bachelor’s degree there, I would have. I think it would have helped my career.”

Senior Andy Bhushan agrees that this new law is a step forward for California.

“Anything that opens up more educational opportunity for students is a good thing,” Bhushan said.

In addition to making higher education more accessible, the new law will also give a boost to California’s job market and economy.

As an academic counselor, Camera Kem is very familiar with launching students into higher education and the workplace.  “The increasingly complex workplace and economy puts an ever-higher premium on more educated workers,” Kem said.

Opening up such educational opportunities can only increase the education level of California’s workforce, thus making California more productive and more competitive in the national and global marketplace.

A possible downside to this new policy is that it might lessen the perceived value of a four-year bachelor degree.  That, however, is not likely because it does not affect bachelor degrees received from existing four-year universities.

This new legislation is the beginning of a major move forward for California’s system of
higher education and should be applauded as a policy that will benefit all Californians.