April, 2019

In this Issue: 

  • The State Budget Process Prepares for May Revise
  • Update on League Sponsored Legislation
  • Key Legislative Deadline Approaches
  • Recent Department of Education Regulatory Actions
  • Federal Grant Opportunities
  • Upcoming Events

The State Budget Process Prepares for May Revise

Last week, the League released its letter in response to the Governor’s 2019-20 budget proposal. The letter is an effort to provide guidance and prompt advocacy around specific community college proposals, including recommendations to automatically backfill property tax fund when revenue doesn’t actualize, funding all projects in 2019-20 Capital Outlay Plan, adopting sensible modifications to the Student Centered Funding Formula, and financial aid that equitably serves community college students by funding the true cost of attendance.

League Budget Letter

The perspectives in the letter are intended to influence the ongoing negotiations with the Department of Finance and the Legislature in the final months of the budget process and advance a 2019-20 budget that supports access, equity and success for all students. For questions or to engage in budget advocacy, please contact Lizette Navarette at lizette@ccleague.org.

Update on League Sponsored Legislation

The League’s package of sponsored legislation has had a successful spring thanks to the support of college partners and organizations. Each sponsored bill has passed their respective committees with strong bipartisan and district support. See below for an update on each bill.

AB 30 (Holden) Dual Enrollment
AB 30 (Holden) will streamline the process for students to enroll in, and colleges and K-12 partners to enter into, Career and College Access Pathway (CCAP) partnerships. It has been heard by both the Assembly Committee on Education and Higher Education and has received no “no” votes.  It is now in the Assembly Appropriations Committee where it must pass by May 17th. Colleges are asked to send letters of support to Rina Kasim at rina@ccleague.org for distribution to the Legislature.

AB 612 (Weber) Access to EBT
AB 612 (Weber), legislation that will help colleges provide access to EBT eligible food options and is part of an effort destigmatize receiving nutritional aid, passed out of the Assembly Health and Human Services Committee. It will be heard in the Assembly Higher Education in the last week of April and from there it will head to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. Colleges are asked to send letters of support to Rina Kasim at rina@ccleague.org for distribution to the Legislature.

SB 291 (Leyva) Reforming Financial Aid to Serve Community College Students
SB 291 (Weber) passed out of the Senate Education Committee earlier this month and is now in the Senate Appropriations Committee. If passed, it would result in a financial aid program that addresses the true cost of attending college – living costs such as rent or purchasing food. Colleges are strongly encouraged to submit a letter in support and can do so by clicking here or by sending them to Rina Kasim at rina@ccleague.org for distribution to the Legislature.

Colleges and community college advocates are strongly encouraged to submit letters of support of AB 30, AB 612, and SB 291. For more information or detail on how you can advocate for these measures, please email lizette@ccleague.org.

Key Legislative Deadline Approaches

All legislation must pass the first policy committee by the end of April in order to be considered active for the remainder of the legislative session. Policy committee considers the policy implications of the proposal; essentially asking if the proposal contained in the legislation is a good idea. Community college proposals are typically considered in the Assembly Higher Education Committee or the Senate Education Committee policy committees, however, this year bills impacting community colleges were heard in committees with jurisdiction over parks and wildlife, alcohol, labor and pensions, and other subjects.

Following passage from policy committee(s), legislation is considered in fiscal committees, known as Appropriations committees. There the committee doesn’t just consider if the bill is a good idea, but whether implementing the state should spend the estimated resources to implement the bill and if it’s worth spending taxpayer resources on the bill. Legislation will have until mid-May to pass the first fiscal committee.

Below is the status of high-profile legislation impacting community colleges.

AB 2 (Santiago) – Originally this bill would have provided free tuition for first-time full-time students. It took amendments extending its provisions to all full-time students and thus significantly increased the cost of the bill. Passed on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 48 (O’Donnell) – Would authorize a statewide general obligation bond to fund K-14 facility construction and modernization. Passed on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

AB 302 (Berman) – Legislation that would mandate that community colleges open up their parking lots to homeless students to camp overnight in.  While the bill took amendments permitting colleges to set reasonable policies in standards in regards to public safety and sanitation, the bill is still a mandate. Passed on to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

SB 206 (Skinner) – Would permit student-athletes to generate income via endorsement deals. Passed on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

SB 777 (Rubio) – Would mandate the hiring of additional full-time faculty without providing resources in which to do so. Passed on to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Recent Department of Education Regulatory Actions

Earlier this month the Department of Education announced that negotiators had reached an agreement regarding various changes in how colleges are accredited via the negotiated rulemaking process. This article will outline the various areas of accreditation that will likely be changed and the proposed rules the negotiators rejected.

The agreement took many observers as a surprise as the various rules the negotiators were taking a look at were quite extensive and this is the first time in almost 10 years that negotiators have been able to come to a unanimous agreement.  If they hadn’t the Department of Education would have been free to impose its own changes on the content of the rules.

If all regulations are enacted as proposed, colleges will have more flexibility to pursue new programs, especially those that involve competency-based education. The new rules are also likely to reduce federal oversight of all colleges, make it easier to get programmatic approval, and lessen consumer protections for students, particularly for those at for-profit institutions. 

The negotiators are proposing changes in four areas. They are:

  • Innovation and Flexibility
  • Direct Assessment
  • Distance Education
  • State Authorization

Innovation and Flexibly
Perhaps the largest proposed change is that regional and national accrediting bodies will be given more leeway in their ability to provide waivers to institutions that are not in compliance with one or more of the accreditation standards.  This is intended to encourage innovation of good programs or provide colleges with flexibility when encouraging emergencies is such as a national disaster.

This change, combined with the restoration of the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) is seen as an avenue for for-profit institutions to expand their programs and reduce the oversight of those colleges.  ACICS oversaw Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech and were shut down by the Obama Administration, which claimed that the ACICS was not adequately performing its role as a gatekeeper for federally funded financial aid programs.

Direct Assessment
Education models that focus on skills or knowledge learned rather than hours spent in a classroom or a GPA will gain a boost under the proposed regulations. Currently, each new program utilizing the direct assessment model must be approved by the Secretary of Education after receiving approval via its accrediting agency. Under the new regulations, the Department of Education must still approve the initial program, but subsequent programs that are similar to the approved program or are deemed of a lower academic level will not require Department approval.

Distance Education
Current accrediting standards require that students in online or distance education programs have regular and substantive contact with their instructors. However, the previous terms have been ill-defined and the new proposed regulations help clarify what “regular” and “substantive” mean. 

“Regular” is now defined as colleges permitting instructors to allow students to have the opportunity to interact with them throughout the length of time of the course. They also must monitor student engagement and intervene if necessary or if the student asks.

“Substantive” would be now defined as an instructor doing at least two of the five following items:

  • Offering Feedback on assignments.
  • Providing information or answer questions on courses.
  • Facilitating group discussions.
  • Other activities as approved by the program’s accreditor.
  • Providing direct Instruction.

State Authorization
The proposed regulations solidify the requirement that online education providers are authorized to operate in the state that they provide educational services in. The rule is changed slightly, to define the state as the student that are located in, as opposed to where they reside.

Rejected Proposals
In January the Department of Education also proposed various changes regarding accrediting standards that were rejected by negotiators. Taken together, they would have radically changed the scope and operations of accrediting agencies. The proposed changes which were rejected were:

  • Enabling the transfer of credits between colleges accredited by regional vs. national accrediting agencies,
  • Limiting the number of states that can participate in a regional accrediting agency, and
  • Changing the federal definition of a credit-hour.

Federal Grant Opportunities

Presented by Downs Government Affairs

The League, in partnership with Downs Government Affairs, provides a list of federal grants to assist your community college in improving its programs and services. If you have any questions about the following grants, please feel free to reach out to Thomas Downs at TCDowns@downsgovaffairs.com.

For a full list of federal grants available to community colleges, visit our Federal Grants page at: www.ccleague.org/federal-grant-opportunites

Upcoming Events

2019 Annual Trustees Conference
May 3-5 | Resort at Squaw Creek

League Monthly GR Webinar
May 21, 11:00 a.m. | Register Here

ACBO Spring Conference
May 20-22, | Olympic Valley, CA

Follow League Tracked Bills at: www.ccleague.org/advocacy/bill-tracking
Follow news related to Budget and Policy at: www.ccleague.org/advocacy

For more information, contact the League's Government Relations and Communications staff:

Lizette Navarette, Vice President | lizette@ccleague.org
Ryan McElhinney, Legislative Advocate | ryan@ccleague.org
Laura Murrell, Communications Manager | laura@ccleague.org
Rina Kasim, Member Resources Associate | rina@ccleague.org
Gerson Light-Sanchez, Government Relations & Communications Fellow | fellow@ccleague.org