When Cabrillo College’s choral activities director Cheryl Anderson heard her program was in danger, she said she was scared to death of losing the ensemble she created.
Senate Bill (SB) 173, introduced by Senator Carol Liu in February 2013, proposed to limit funding for community college classes in adult education, English proficiency and career technical education, and eliminate funding for classes like home economics and the performing arts. Instead, the state funds would focus on transferring students to a four-year university.
If the bill was enacted in its original phrasing, Anderson’s choral program would not only have to find funding elsewhere, but Cabrillo College would also lose its ability to offer non-credit classes to older adults in the community.
“The issue is Cabrillo is truly a community college. A great part of my ensemble program involves people from the community who are excellent musicians,” Anderson said “[Cabrillo music majors’] ability to repeat the course standing beside people who already know how to do it and are there for the love of it really is the perfect [situation].”
Kate Anderton, a member of the symphonic chorus, said when everyone in the performing arts found out about SB 173, it made them think about what they would lose if the funding disappeared. Anderton said the symphonic chorus is composed of 80 to 100 members, who are both Cabrillo College students preparing to transfer and older adults of the community.
“The benefit is the adult community has the deep pleasure of singing together with the younger students,” Anderton said. “We’re able to perform this wonderful literature because of the years of experience represented by the cohort of older adults.”
It was the threat of losing the program that prompted Anderton to draft an amendment to SB 173, which was written to protect the funding for non-credit classes.
“We proposed an amendment that would have authorized continued state financial support for older adult classes,” Anderton said, “which was one of the sub-categories that was removed by the bill.”
On May 12, Senator Carol Liu amended SB 173 so it no longer posed a threat to the program both Cheryl Anderson and Kate Anderton were trying to protect. Beyond protecting the performing arts, the amended bill no longer threatens the funding of the adult education classes and non-credit classes.
“[Anderton] dug into the bill and worked very closely with the legislators and the politicians to help inform them about the problems this would cause for our program,” Anderson said. “They were responsive to it, so that language, at least for now, has been removed.”
Although the bill has been amended, SB 173 is now calling for an annual report on the number and type of non-credit courses, along with the number of students benefiting from the funding of the courses. This report functions to find any deficits that need to be addressed in the future.
Anderton said while she is pleased with the amendment, she anticipates continued evaluation of non-credit classes.
“The state is moving into exploring how to best focus the education dollars on adult education to make it effective. We know this is one victory,” Anderton said. “We know we will continue to need the community support and the active engagement of everybody affected by that kind of loss and make sure we don’t end up losing this rich component of our community life.”