“I’m committed to fighting for L.A.’s students because generations ago, a lot of people fought for me. And as a result, this grandson of an immigrant laborer, a factory worker, a waitress and a Teamster is living a life he never dreamed possible.”
California's community colleges serve the most disadvantaged students, but they receive the least funding per student compared to other segments of our public education system.
SOURCE: California Legislative Analyst's Office
LIST OF ISSUES
My first priority as a Trustee will be to help the District navigate its way through the COVID-19 crisis. We must protect employment and find the funds to provide those working on the frontlines hazard pay for their sacrifices.
With the District announcing its campuses will largely be closed during the first half of 2021, this is the right time to push forward on iterating and evolving the campuses' distance learning programs. I received my second master's degree through an online distance learning program. No one on the Board has spent as many hours as a distance learning student as I have. I guarantee you that there is room for improvement. We have to continue demanding better for the students in these colleges as they will be the future leaders of our city and our state.
The 1947 Truman Commission on Higher Education envisioned community colleges as key institutions to deliver equal opportunity for all Americans – and so they are – but as our students have gotten blacker and browner, funding has steadily declined.
Today, L.A.'s Community College students are 60% Latino. The District serves more Black students than all 10 UC campuses combined and all 23 CSU campuses combined. A comprehensive 2010 study tied declining community college completion rates over time to declines in resources per student. If we have any hope of closing the ever-widening wealth gap in our country, we must fully fund our local community colleges.
This is why I support Proposition 15 as a critical first step. The Schools & Communities First Initiative will be a key component to our state’s recovery, delivering nearly $500 million each year to California’s community colleges and tens of millions to this District.
Housing & Food Insecurity
Over half of the District’s students have faced some form of housing insecurity within the last year. Nearly 20% of students have experienced homelessness within the last year. My approach to housing for the District's students can be found here.
Nearly two-thirds of students experience food insecurity. Los Angeles Southwest (LASC) and Los Angeles Trade-Technical (LATTC) Colleges had the highest proportion of food insecure students in the District (76% and 75%, respectively). There is more work to do in order to address this basic need. My plan to address food insecurity can be found here.
Students who cannot meet their basic needs cannot successfully complete their studies. Non-tuition costs now account for at least 80% of the cost of attendance at community colleges and I would argue that our community college students need basic support as much as or more than students at four-year institutions. That is why I would love to see a universal basic income program targeted to community college students.
L.A.’s future starts now and we have to be proactive about preparing for it. We have no other choice. And that means preparing to address our climate crisis with the same levels of urgency and mobilization that our city saw during the New Deal, World War II and the Cold War. Los Angeles’s colleges and universities all played key roles in these efforts and there will be multiple roles for the Los Angeles Community College District to play in combating our climate crisis moving forward – particularly with respect to job training and workforce development. I have a plan to prepare the District for an increase in green and clean energy jobs over the next decade. You can read the details here.
As this Board is preparing to address workforce development issues, I think it would benefit from the perspective of someone who has actually worked on the frontlines of a global, technological revolution. Technology has impacted my job and my industry like it has so many others. The changes we all knew were coming are only being accelerated by COVID-19. The District has to ramp up efforts to expand apprenticeships and 21st century skills development to meet the demands of this moment.
I have a plan to reform the Board to make it more responsive to the needs of our communities by increasing the opportunity for more voices to be heard in the electoral process. You can read the details here.
The relationship between the District and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department (LASD) also needs to be reconsidered. I want to see meaningful changes coming out of the review the District is conducting with the LASD Community College Bureau on the Bureau’s training, professional development and response protocols.
Over half of students in the Los Angeles Community College District live in poverty. They are fighting for their lives, and we need to be in this fight with them.
Students who earn a California community college certificate or degree nearly double their earnings within three years, but L.A.'s community colleges are not producing enough qualified graduates. Everything that the Board does needs to be done with student success as the overarching priority. This means dramatically increasing degree and certificate completion rates by adopting best practices such as the Accelerated Study in Associates Program and tapping into the California Apprenticeship Initiative.