I am a living example of the opportunities that higher education can offer. Going from high school drop-out to PhD in less than 20 years, I know firsthand how important higher education is to achieving success. I strongly believe that the community college system should serve the entire community. This includes high school students looking for college credits, high school graduates looking for a two-year degree to transfer, nontraditional students looking to gain or improve vocational or other skills in either credit or noncredit courses, ESL students wanting to learn or improve their English language skills, and community members wanting to learn the necessary information to gain citizenship or take an enrichment class such as art, dance, or language. Accessibility, availability, and affordability are especially important for the most vulnerable in our population, including former foster youth and those who are trying to turn their lives around after serving in the juvenile or criminal justice systems and those hardest hit by the recession.
I am in a unique position to govern San Francisco City College because of my work in developing and analyzing policy, implementing evidence-based practices, and making hard decisions, as well as my work as an adjunct professor for many years and my passion for education.
In my work as a policy researcher, I have learned that by ensuring that students have available, accessible, and affordable education, we create not only an opportunity for students to succeed in life, but also for the city to decrease crime and homelessness and to increase political and civic engagement as well as overall health. As an adjunct professor, I have had the opportunity to work with students who did not have the remedial education necessary to do well in classes but who had much potential for contributing to their chosen fields. Many of my students were nontraditional students who balanced work, family, and school, so I understand how flexible the City College structure must be for its students to succeed. I also understand how important the City College experience is for students whose first language is not English or who are first-generation college students. In addition, I have worked on curriculum development and understand the delicate balance between academic freedom and good governance and oversight.
As a new mom, I’m especially committed to keeping high-quality education accessible, available, and affordable for the next generation as well as for the current one.
With City College at a critical stage, my goal is to continue focusing on the overall stability of the institution as a whole and ensuring accessible, available, and affordable education for our community while also ensuring adherence to the accrediting agency’s standards. The primary objective is to keep City College open, accredited, and top quality.
Upon achieving stability, I plan on harnessing the success of San Francisco’s City College graduates in the community to create an alumni network to mentor current students, to provide expansive practical internship opportunities, and to help fund the future generation’s educational aspirations. This is especially important for female students, who are underrepresented in math and sciences, and for former foster youth. Since foster youth have particular barriers to higher education, I hope to expand the Guardian Scholars Program for foster youth as well as the Second Chance program for formerly incarcerated students to create new opportunities for those students and thereby our community. I will also support creative ways to give remedial support to students in a timely and affordable manner as well as ways to best serve nontraditional students.
Specifically, my goals to keep CCSF accessible, available, and affordable are to do the following:
- Increase enrollment!!
- Lobby at the state level for discretion about tuition levels for certain types of classes. A common complaint in the community is that tuition and fees are too low. Although I do not necessarily agree with this sentiment universally, many professionals in the community value enrichment classes and noncredit classes and are willing and able to pay more for them. Indeed, CCSF must remain accessible, available, and are set by the state, we must work with our state policy makers to grant us that discretion.
- Implement best practices at every level. As a researcher, I am keenly aware of how important it is to assess regularly. We must be able to collect and track data above and beyond what is federally required, including who exactly we’re serving and how. We should track who are students are (what are their educational goals and backgrounds), what the needs and gaps of the system are, and the outcomes for each type of student. For example, someone who has a bachelor’s degree and is returning to City College to gain specific job training skills will have different needs, goals, and outcomes from someone who is graduating high school and would like to eventually transfer to a four-year university or someone who looking for a certificate or other types of training. And those people will have different needs, goals, and outcomes from someone whose goal is to learn English or gain citizenship. In addition to the importance of data, other best practices should be followed. As one example, online learning is a popular solution to cutting costs, but researchers have shown that community college students in particular have poor outcomes with that academic structure. We should therefore proceed cautiously with systems that may not work as well with our population of students as with students in other academic settings. Technology cannot substitute for in-person counseling and guidance, particularly for nontraditional students.
- Create a strong alumni group. So many people in San Francisco and beyond have been impacted by City College. Whether they received a degree from CCSF, gained needed skills, or took an enrichment class, these people WANT to share their successes and give back to a system that facilitated their achievements. In addition to much-needed funding that an alumni group can bring, an alumni network will provide opportunities for mentorships, internships, and scholarships for current students. Similar to the Chicago model, which has been very successful, we need to reach out and cultivate the resources of former CCSF students in the community who have been successful. I will be working with the founder of a newly created City College Of San Francisco Alumni Alliance to create a strong alumni association.
- Engage the entire community. In conjunction with creating a strong alumni network, we should be actively engaging the business community, the nonprofit community, and government agencies to invest in CCSF students. Who better to inform students about current and future job trends than the businesses and agencies that will be hiring them? Who better to analyze gaps in the local talent pool than those seeking talent? This applies to various types of students that CCSF serves. For example, those who have been recently laid off and seeking to make themselves marketable may not be aware of what skills hiring managers are looking for and should have an opportunity to improve those skills needed in a timely way. Similarly, recent high school graduates should have resources and assistance for making decisions about a career path as well as what specific courses are needed for that path. In an ideal world, we can allow students ample time to figure out where their interests lie; however, in these bad economic times with so many waiting to get in the door of higher education, it is not unreasonable to ask students to determine what course of study they would like to take within a shorter amount of time than in the past. However, we have to provide the adequate counseling, guidance, and advisement necessary for them to make educated decisions. We cannot expect our students to be successful if we do not provide them the adequate resources to do so, thus, the entire community must play a part in ensuring that our city’s future workforce is properly resourced.