2010 Texas Democratic Platform: Community Colleges


This post is tenth in a series on the education planks of the 2010 Texas Democratic Party Platform.

This is an unofficial version published in advance of the final version from the Texas Democrats, but I expect very few changes.

COMMUNITY COLLEGES

Democrats recognize and support the essential role of Texas community colleges, where almost 60% of Texas post-secondary students are enrolled. By combining affordability, high quality and responsiveness to community needs, these institutions provide an education to those who would be otherwise excluded.

Republicans have drastically reduced funding for community colleges and that burden has been shifted onto students, their families and property taxpayers. A significant funding increase would be needed just to restore Republican cuts to the 2002-3 state funding level, without adjusting for inflation. Not only do the Governor and Republican politicians again want to shift hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs for employees’ group insurance onto students and local property taxpayers, they have already cut funding by 5% this year. And they are asking for an additional 10% in cuts to Republican budgets that currently allow only 4% of students eligible for Texas Equal Opportunity Grants to receive grants designated for community college students. To maintain community colleges’ role in providing lifelong education, we endorse:

  • full formula funding of the cost of instruction and of the growth in student enrollments;
  • fully state-funded full time employee group health insurance and proportional health benefits for adjunct instructors;
  • funding for new campuses and program expansions, especially in critical need programs, sufficient to meet Closing the Gaps goals;
  • rolling back tuition and fees that have increased over 50% under Republican control;
  • sufficient financial aid to cover 260,000 community college students who are eligible for grant assistance but receive none because state funding is inadequate; and
  • elimination of financial aid rules that penalize students who transfer to universities from community colleges.

To prevent further erosion of community colleges’ ability to serve their communities, Texas Democrats oppose:

  • proposals for “proportionality” that would shift group insurance costs onto students and property taxpayers;
  • shifting the basis of formula funding away from actual costs; and
  • “incentive programs that would discriminate against colleges and programs serving disadvantaged and non-traditional students or against non-degree skill-building and retraining programs.
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2 Responses to 2010 Texas Democratic Platform: Community Colleges

  1. James Hanley says:

    I respectfully disagree with Zeno about free community college tuition. Unless students are paying something, there are many who won’t take the educational opportunity seriously at all. I remember when I attended San Francisco City College, when the max tuition was $50. At the start of each term, there were so many students it was hard to walk on the sidewalks. By three weeks in, about half those people had disappeared. I don’t believe CC tuition should be set so high it discourages serious students, but people tend to intuitively accept the adage that something is only worth what you pay for it, and making education appear free leads too many students to devalue it.

    That’s all my opinion, of course. No claims to gospel truth, here.

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  2. Zeno says:

    I like the planks in the Democratic platform, although I don’t know the funding formula in Texas and whether its restoration will suffice to support postsecondary public education at an adequate level. (In California, full funding has been only a dream during this recession.) The proportional health benefits plank for part-time instructors is actually more generous than what California currently provides (which I think varies from college district to college district). As it currently stands, adjunct faculty get no health benefits until they clear a certain threshold in total number of units being taught.

    I’m firmly in favor of rolling back community college tuition. In fact, I wish we’d go back to the days when there was no tuition. Students pay back the state when their earning power increases and they pay more in state income taxes. Trying to get them to cough up money up front just depresses enrollment numbers and keeps them in lower-paying jobs. Of course, these days we don’t have enough funding to keep up with enrollment demands, which causes some of our politicians to argue for more tuition — to take advantage of the demand. We’re arguing about chickens and eggs in my state.

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