California Public Higher Education

Feb4

Women’s City Club, Pasadena
February 4, 2016

Video is here

A large crowd of members and guests gathered on February 4 for breakfast, before hearing from an outstanding panel of college leaders.  A few of the interesting points discussed by the panel were:

  • Community college enrollments have grown explosively since the Master Plan for Higher Education was initiated in 1960
  • 70–90 percent of incoming community college students need remedial classes before starting college work.
  • Students who transfer from community colleges have a higher rate of degree completion than those who start at CSU or UC schools.
  • Due to “ballot box budgeting” 85 percent of the state budget is consumed by funding formulas such as prisons, courts, and government operations. The remaining 15 percent is where budget cuts occur, including drastic cuts for higher education in recent years. Funding is coming back but remains a major issue.
  • For every $1 invested in higher education the state receives $6 in productivity of college graduates.
  • Although the Higher Education Commission designed to provide coordination among community colleges, state universities, and University of California was disbanded, the segments are now collaborating more closely than before.

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Los Angeles County League Day

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Shaking Up Tradition

Jan2016

Photos are here

Women’s City Club, Pasadena
Thursday January 7

You can please some of the League all the time. You can please all of the League some of the time. But, you can’t please all of the League all of the time. The January 7 League Day seemed to please a lot of the League, at least that time. Sixty-three people attended, and we addressed to several important items.

When registration started, there were already eight or ten bushy-tailed early risers waiting for things to get going. Many people, particularly working people, liked the earlier starting time of 9, with the possibility of leaving by noon, so they had the rest of the day for other activities.

After breakfast, Marilynne Wilander and Rody Stephenson reported on the results of the Money in Politics study. Their report was submitted to the Board for approval, then forwarded to LWV-US.
Tom Carson guided us through a vote on updating the LWV-PA’s Articles of Incorporation—changes were needed to maintain our legal status as a nonprofit 501(c)3. It required a unanimous vote from a quorum of the membership. Fifty-seven ballots were submitted and all were “Yes” votes to approve the changes.

We then broke into six table groups to examine the League’s national and county policies. Reviewing them each year is useful to remind us of the League’s thoroughly studied and carefully worded core beliefs. The group reached a consensus to accept them as written, but many comments were recorded in most categories. The comments will be submitted to the National and Los Angeles County Leagues. These policies are found starting on page 19 of the LWV-PA’s Yearbook, if you want to refer to them.

Rather than advise National and County on our choices of priorities to address in the coming year, which has been done in the past, we voted to support LWV-US’s proposal of a program focus on “Making Democracy Work” for the next two years. This program emphasizes supporting voter rights and voter protection in local communities and in the states before and after the 2016 elections, and supporting legislation and actions to reform Money in Politics. These reforms can be made despite recent decisions by the Supreme Court.

To cap off this already full day, Peter Dreier, an urban policy analyst and a professor of Politics at Occidental College, and author of several books and publications, spoke about the need for a raise in the minimum wage in Pasadena, to $15.00 an hour by 2020. He prefaced this with several illustrations of how Pasadena is the California city with the second greatest disparity between rich and poor residents. He pointed out that people who have lived in Pasadena for much of their lives can no longer afford to pay rent if they earn the current minimum wage, and they are being forced to move to distant, cheaper locations, which requires long, expensive commutes. These people, who have jobs and work hard, nevertheless live on the edge of an abyss, where any small problem can spell disaster for them and their children.

The League has already joined the coalition advocating for the higher minimum wage. Mr. Dreier had us call Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek right then to urge him to support the move for a higher minimum wage. We inundated the mayor’s phone. We invite you to call right now (626-744-4111), while you are thinking about it, and urge him to support the minimum wage increase to $15/hr by 2020.

—Martha Giffen