Das Williams, corporate democrat supports a two-tiered educational toll-booth system for community college access

On March 4th students converged on the state capitol in Sacramento for the annual March in March. They walked down the Capitol Mall to the west steps where a rally was held in support of public education and equal access to courses.  There were hundreds of students participating.

On the one-mile march, students took to the streets with their signs and their voices chanting “no tax, no fees, education should be free” and “90 unit cap, that’s a bunch of crap.”

What is the 90 unit cap?  It is the plan by the privatizers of education to limit access to students attending what were once public community colleges.  Handwringing politicians state that there is simply no money for universal education and they are attempting to limit student class offerings and more importantly, limit the ability of students to take unit based classes.

The 90-unit cap that would make students who exceed the cap pay international student tuition rates — a whopping $247 per unit, in contrast to the $46 per unit for in-state tuition.  This is also the plan of the Lumina Foundation, a big player in the move to limit college access and give students the bum rush through college by making it harder for them to get courses.  Lumina also wants to winnow out what they say are ‘slackers’ from the college roles and they have complained repeatedly about students taking too much time to graduate.

The protest drew bystanders out of adjacent buildings that overshadowed the street. William Hain, who works as a tax administrator with the Board of Equalization, shared his views and expressed support for the community college system.

“I’m all for keeping education as cheap as possible but I don’t know … if we can provide that. What we do is we collect taxes so I get the flip side of this. I’m all for free services but I do understand that somebody’s got to pay” (http://lmcexperience.com/news/2013/03/12/annual-march-in-march-takes-capitol-by-storm/).

Hain, himself is a graduate of Chico State but also a former community college attendee, gave his position on the financial situation and what community colleges mean to him.

“One of the problems is we spend so much on administration and so little in the classroom… if we all spend it wisely like it was our own money instead of like it was the state’s money, I think we could do a lot more with the money we do have. I think community colleges are an essential thing, especially for those kids that don’t come out of high school with straight A’s. So it provides opportunity and aren’t we supposed to be the land of opportunity? (ibid).

Contra Costa Community College District Trustee, Greg Enholm, who represents Los Medanos College in ward 5, was on scene to witness the students in action.  He stated:

“I have two minds on the 90-unit cap. Our goal has to be to get students who weren’t able to get in or who weren’t able to get the courses they need. It’s a low priority to me to have a cap, but it’s a higher priority to have those two (ibid).

Enholm also said he hopes to see education costs decrease for students.  He is in a district that represents the new majority of burgeoning students – Latino students who are being denied citizenship and an education.  He adamantly opposes the 90 unit cap being pushed by both democratic and republican politicians.

“If we have a desire to have students get the education they need, we can’t put barriers in front of them, and the biggest barrier right now would be higher cost. I would want to see the tuition rate go down. Its way up at $46, it should be down to zero as far as I’m concerned” (ibid).

Das Williams corporate democrat proposes a two-tiered contract education system for community colleges

Back in March of I reported in an article entitled, “Freddy’s Back: AB955 (http://www.dailycensored.com/freddys-back-california-ab955/) that Das Williams, a recently elected assemblyman from Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties had a contract educational privatization plan that he stated would correct the problem of student access.  Williams was supported by both public and private unions (http://www.followthemoney.org/database/uniquecandidate.phtml?uc=142109), as well as real estate, beverage companies and of course Wal Mart – the latter being a big player in the corporatization of education.  The Lumina Foundation, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Wal Mart cartel all have been busy pushing standards, minimizing course offerings for students in community colleges, and pushing plans for privatization.

According to Williams, AB955 would increase access and help students get through the community college system faster by offering unsubsidized, full cost extension classes.  This is contract education, as I wrote in “Freddy’s Back” (http://www.dailycensored.com/freddys-back-california-ab955/) and it is the same proposal that Santa Monica College

President, Chui Tsang, himself a Lumina member and proponent of replacing teachers with online classes, proposed in April of last year that led to student pepper sprayings and a violation of the Calififornia Brown Act.  Tsang also vacations with Alex Abramoff, son of Casino Jack, who is running for student body president with the blessing of Tsang.

Under Assembly Bill 955, if passed, students would have to pay $247 per unit, the same rate as a non-resident, for a high demand extension class (ibid).

Das Williams received massive financial support from the California Teachers’ unions

It seems that the teacher unions, especially the American Federation of Teachers have backed a Trojan horse when they supported Das Williams (http://www.faccc.org/govrelations/index.cfm?gr_event=billsdisplay&action=view&id=106).

This is not the first time the overpaid union leadership and passive dues paying membership have supported a corporate democrat looking to decimate opportunities for students, especially the new majority of students, to get an education.  Julia Bownley was another assembly member that the union leadership gave oodles of money to.  She backed AB515, the same two-tiered toll both system for education (http://www.dailycensored.com/freddys-back-california-ab955/) that failed and is now being replaced with proposed AB955.

Why do the unions support corporate democrats who seek to limit education for the burgeoning Latino student majority and current students?   Is it because they have been fooled or is it, as in the case of Randi Weingarten, herself an Eli Broad graduate and president of the American Federation of Teachers that they are in the pockets of the privatizers?  (http://gothamschools.org/2009/03/11/eli-broad-describes-close-ties-to-klein-weingarten-duncan/).

Student Trustee Debora van Eckhardt, along with a few students and faculty members from the Contra Costa Community College District, paid a brief visit to the office of to Das Williams, Assembly member for the Santa Barbara region, the day of the march, which had no choice but to make time to listen to the Contra Costa delegation.

The impromptu meeting with Williams was set up by van Eckhardt to address Assembly Bill 955, the contract education bill Williams is proposing.

Students Jamaal Morgain and Jeff  Phillips told Williams their personal stories and addressed the issues like the effects of the 90-unit cap.  Phillips stated:

“I felt like it really added a human aspect to the rules that they were about to put into place” (http://lmcexperience.com/news/2013/03/12/annual-march-in-march-takes-capitol-by-storm/).

Phillips said he will have 80-units when he is ready to transfer, leaving him on the brink of reaching the cap. He hopes sharing his story, of being the child of an incarcerated parent and at one point a resource student, might have a positive impact on decision-making at the capitol.

“It really let the assembly men and women see, that… if this person is affected there might be 10,000 other students that also have this same story and that will affect them in a negative way,” Philips stated (ibid).

Das Williams retorted by saying that Assembly Bill 955, the toll booth educational plan he is supporting, would ease access concerns:

“What this comes from, is that we have a crisis of access right now. People cannot get the classes that they need to transfer and graduate. Taking an extension course would be more expensive than their normal courses because it’s not state subsidized. It would be vastly cheaper than going to school and extra year or two (ibid).

However, Glenn Appell, President of the United Faculty Union of the Contra Costa Community College District disagrees with Williams’s bill.

In a phone interview he said the reason why they decided to talk with Williams is because:

“he is a big wig on the education finance committee so he has a lot of power state wide in education issues.  We are not at all in favor of a two tier tuition system, for people who pay more would get priority even though he swears that is not his intent. That’s definitely the unintended consequence of that system.  “How many students do you know… that can go borrow 500 bucks to take a class? Where are they going to borrow, that 500 bucks? (ibid).

Good question; which leads one to wonder why the teachers’ unions would support Williams in the first place.

The Lumina Foundation who is also behind such moves was formerly the USA Group, a subsidiary of Sallie Mae, one of the biggest student loan debt pushers in the nation.  USA Group morphed into the Lumina Foundation and their board members are still Sallie Mae connected.  Perhaps the financial debt incentives for Wall Street are one of the reasons that Das Williams, Brownley and other corporate democrats are behind such plans.

The event was planned by the Student Senate of California Community Colleges (SSCCC) and its intent was to deliver a message to state legislators about what is important to students.  But not so fast!  Let’s back up for the SSCCC is itself riddled with inconsistencies.

April 7th, 2013 Das Williams invited to present his two-tiered, toll booth plan, AB955 at the scheduled meeting of the SSCCC

Harrison Wills, the former student body president of Santa Monica College in Los Angeles stated that on April 2, 2013 he received a phone call at 8:28 AM from a former student leader in LA regarding some very concerning news with AB955.

It seems that Das Williams, current Chair of the California State Assembly Higher Education Committee has weaseled his way into the SSCCC with the help of teachers’ unions and through newly elected conservative and ignorant student leaders that are allowing him to come and make a presentation on the two-tier education scheme AB955.

On April 7th, the SSCCC has scheduled a discussion with Assembly Member Das Williams to hear his proposal on AB955.  The time will be 2:00 PM.  If you wish to call in or e-mail the SSCCC on Sunday, during the allotted scheduled public comment discussion, there will be offered three (3) minutes per speaker and fifteen (15) minutes per topic to do so. Readers are encouraged to flood the SSCCC with e-mails and comments, if one cannot attend personally.  You can contact the SSCCC at: www.studentsenateccc.org with your concerns and to find out the time for the public response section.

The SSCCC Council may briefly respond to statements made or questions posed, however, for further information, please contact the SSCCC President for the item of discussion to be placed on a future agenda. (Brown Act §54954.3)