While the state has championed 1440 degrees as a quicker, more efficient means of helping students achieve transfer — it is has created a whirlwind of paperwork for faculty.
The result of state law SB-1440, the law requires community colleges in California to create specialized degrees that guarantee students entry to the California State University system once they are completed.
While the deal sounds good for students, schools like Las Positas College are struggling to be in compliance with the new law.
“It is a significant amount of work to get this done,” Academic Senate President Sarah Thompson said. “We are all scrambling.”
Thompson expressed her disapproval of the new law affecting everyone in community college in California. She is in charge of the faculty and how the curriculum complies with the 1440.
“It’s a significant amount of work that the faculty will have to put in,” Thompson said.
Faculty must now change the curriculum for their classes. In some cases, educators are working overtime to create new curriculum to meet demand for the degrees, which is a painstaking process that begins on the local level and is ultimately approved by the state.
Even though the degrees are state mandated, it is still entirely up to each individual school to create the degrees and their reason for existing, which must meet strict state guidelines.
“Even though this is a state mandated degree,” Thompson said, “we still have to create a written rationale as to why we are creating this degree.”
Thompson also bemoaned the process schools have been required to go through when submitting degrees, often sending them back to schools for minor complaints. The state claims it is too short on cash to expedite the process.
“(The state is) setting a goal without the infrastructure to implement it,” Thompson said.
There are a few majors that will not have to change such as Geography and Mass Communications. For those that do, this is causing them to add curriculum and erase “non compliant” classes.
Thompson is quick to credit the work of her support staff in creating the new degrees.
“Without them I would have been bewildered by the process,” Thompson said.
The fundamental challenge with the new degrees is simple — instructors must focus on who attends LPC now and still spend the present working out how the future will look.
“We need to figure out how to best serve our current students,” Thompson said, “while still planning for this future of community colleges that is being shaped by these laws. It’s really quite a mess at the moment.”
Opinions Editor Travis Danner contributed to this article.