In our Balkanized political culture, community colleges are one of the few institutions and public spaces where individuals possessing divergent values, attitudes, and beliefs gather and discuss, debate, learn, and share a personal challenge (in this case, one that is primarily intellectual in nature). It is where people of varying ages, life experiences, ideologies, races and ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds convene and discuss ideas and concepts. Most notably, there are three features of community college student diversity that are especially significant in countering U.S. political polarization: (1) generational heterogeneity; (2) the presence of military-connected students; and (3) student socioeconomic and racial diversity. As community college presidents Gail Mellow and DeRionne Pollard observed, “In the classrooms of our colleges, discussions of inequality, racism and immigration don’t need the ‘trigger warnings’ so hotly debated in some universities; our students live them every day.”
Rural-serving colleges are critical to providing educational opportunities for their communities but face unique challenges when serving their students. Their service area is large, yet they rarely have the economies of scale that their urban counterparts have.
After watching the Assembly Chamber unanimously pass ACR 31 (with 67 co-authors signing on to the resolution) recognizing April 2019 as California Community College Month, I was reminded of just how far community colleges in California have advanced from their origins as extensions of K-12 school districts in the first decade of the 20th century.
Few students and parents, if any, give much thought to institutional accreditation when choosing a college or university. The term “accreditation” may even make your eyes glaze over, but the reality is that it’s an incredibly important concept. Allan Hancock College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), a federally-recognized, regional accreditation agency. Regional accreditors — there are seven recognized by the Department of Education — are considered by many to be the gold standard when it comes to ensuring educational quality.