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California needs effective 18-month, $10,000 degree

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POSTED January 3, 2013 9:09 p.m.

Dan Logue believes California can deliver a college degree in 18 months for $10,000.

The Assemblyman from Yuba County has introduced legislation (Assembly Bill 51) to create a Bachelor’s Degrees pilot program for certain college majors. The only criteria is they can’t cost more than $10,000 - including textbooks - to obtain.

It would require coordination between high school, community college, and state universities. They would focus on the high demand STEM fields - Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

The idea is to allow students access to unlimited Advanced Placement courses in high school, more access to community college credit in high school, and priority enrollment in community college after high school.

Logue’s legislation would create three pilot programs in different parts of the state. One would include CSU Chico, Yuba and Butte community colleges, and the Butte and Yuba County Offices of Education.

It has the potential to change the course of education in California much like the Manhattan Project changed the world. Instead of pursuing an education framework that has been built on but not altered in a significant manner for well over a century, the pilot program could trigger wide scale out-of-the-box thinking to deliver more education bang for the buck.

Logue’s proposal sets a goal instead of dictating a course of action for educators, like most legislation out of Sacramento. The details on how to streamline the process and make it work is left up to the educators on the ground.

College education since 2001 has been a bigger drag on the economy than medical care costs.

Public and private college education costs to the consumer are up 92 percent during that time frame. That compares to a 47 percent hike in medical care costs. The Consumer Price Index from 2001 to 2012 went up just 27 percent.

Higher tuition - even before The Great Recession - did not benefit students. That’s because the bulk of the personnel resources have gone to executive administration payroll.

A case study is the University of Minnesota. From 2001 to 2012, teaching payroll went up 15.6 percent. The number of students went up 22.4 percent. Executive administration payroll rose 45.5 percent.

Little wonder it is taking longer and costing more to get a degree.

A similar situation has happened with K-12 education. But instead of the administration cost going sky high on the school level it has soared at the state, county and the district levels due to decrees for bean counters required with programs mandated by Sacramento.

Governor Jerry Brown is toying with the idea of ending categorical funding for schools. Categorical programs - essentially dictates from Sacramento what a local school district must offer - have swelled school payrolls outside of the classroom.

It has been a dismal failure. Education costs have risen as results decline. And while state test scores have gone up, who is fooling whom? Teachers aren’t teaching in a true sense. They’re teaching to the test.

Teachers should be allowed to teach. They are the ones best suited to know how to reach students. They know how bureaucracy can choke the education process and negatively impact their effectiveness. Sacramento’s one-size-fits-all mandates have proven to be costly and ineffective.

Logue’s proposal essentially would overhaul our education system from the ground up. And the best way to do that is to empower teachers to make and implement the necessary changes and not pencil pusher in Sacramento.

 

This column is the opinion of managing editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com or 209-249-3519.

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