Boys and Mend of Color: Plans for Post-Secondary Education Reform

In 2012, California Competes, a project of The Opportunity Institute, advocated for changes in the state budget funding formula for community colleges that would incentivize them to enroll and successfully serve more Californians living with the greatest needs for higher education. Previously, community college enrollment growth dollars allocated funds evenly across the districts, not taking into account that some communities are needier than others. For example, San Bernardino has more than three times as many people without college degrees than does Santa Barbara, and higher poverty and unemployment rates. Yet both districts were funded to enroll about the same number of students. We documented the inequities in this approach in our report, Educating Julio.

In 2014 the Governor took heed of our recommendations, and enacted changes for a revised funding approach for distributing new growth dollars to the community colleges. They are now rewarded with additional funds when they serve students in high-need areas, because their funding will take into account 1) the amount of unmet need in a district and 2) the effectiveness of the colleges in serving people living in high-need areas. The formula will be rolled out in two phases, with factor one taking effect fall 2015 and factor two in the fall of 2016.

California General Fund Spending Per Individual

California General Fund Spending Per Individual

We propose building off of this success and experience by further adjusting the community college funding formula to incentivize serving boys and men of color and formerly incarcerated students. Although all of California’s children should start with equal opportunities, boys and men of color are diverted from education pathways, and disproportionately funneled into the criminal justice system.  The community college system is not currently serving these populations adequately. For example, Black men make up only 4% of all community college enrollees, and obtain just 3% of all AAs and certificates.

This project would be implemented in two phases: 1) Create an action plan to identify the inequities in the community college system for boys and men of color and the formerly incarcerated; and 2) Lead an effort to educate and influence public officials and the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to implement a funding formula that incentivizes serving these populations.