The Little Hoover Commission of California has called for leading educators and officials within the state to make significant improvements to the public higher education system in order to meet the ever-evolving needs of the evolving job market.
As an independent and bi-partisan panel, the 13 members of the Little Hoover Commission are responsible for analyzing and reporting on various functions of the state government. In its most recent report, the commission urged officials to re-imagine the future of higher education by overhauling the California Master Plan for Higher Education, which was first established over a half century ago in 1960. In its place, the commission has demanded that officials create a new agenda focused specifically on producing graduates who are more prepared for contributing to the economy.
California Public Schools Lagging Behind Private InstitutionsAccording to the report by the Little Hoover Commission, the present three-tier educational system of community colleges, California State University, and the University of California is failing to generate sufficient graduates for the latest age of finite workforce resources. Since the system was initially formed to accommodate the rising influx of the baby-boomer population, the commission believes it is lagging behind competing institutions nationwide. Unlike the prestigious private institutions of Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Harvard University, the California public university system is failing to take advantage of the availability of online technology to enroll thousands of students on a global level.
With the current outlook for the education system, the commission has predicted that California will experience a deficit of one million students with bachelor’s degrees and more than 2.3 million with associate’s degrees or certificates needed to fulfill positions in the state’s workforce by 2025. Since enrollments in the California public education system have lagged behind the continued population growth in the state, the commission determined that an estimated 10,000 competent students are unable to attend a public university every year.
Stuart Drown, the executive director of the Little Hoover Commission, stated that the main reason behind these issues within the public education system in California lies in state finances. Ever since the downturn of the economy and the recession, California's institutions have been challenged to generate the funding necessary to support enrollment demands. In the last decade, many California community colleges have been forced to cut classes due to budget shortfalls. As a result, more than 600,000 students have been turned away from high-demand bottleneck courses in English, mathematics, sciences, history, and other fundamental courses.
Continuing Online EffortsAfter rather bumpy results from the Udacity online programs at San Jose State University, many California public institutions remain wary of efforts towards distance online education. San Jose State discovered that a reasonably high percentage of students failed the initial introductory classes online. Therefore, leaders at the university have suspended the online courses temporarily for the semester to work out the kinks in the education delivery system. The Little Hoover Commission suggests that this university and the other members of the public higher education system adopt new strategies to incentivize online course efforts.
California officials have stated that they are still reviewing and discussing the commission’s report.