Starting with the summer 2012 term, students at Clatsop Community College will experience yet another tuition increase. According to the college, the students approved this rate hike. What other options were they offered? What other options did the college explore prior to resorting to yet another tuition increase?
Under existing protocol, the administration will run a class at CCC with as little as 10 students, and most classes have enrollment capped at 25. Compared to other community colleges and universities in the state, where class sizes can range from 50 to several hundred students, CCCs classes are disproportionately small.
While there is great disparity in class sizes, faculty pay for CCC instructors is comparable to most other community colleges and the starting faculty pay at CCC (which requires only a masters degree) exceeds the starting salary of state universities. Recent job openings at Southern Oregon University show a $42,000 starting salary and require a Ph.D. Top tier faculty at CCC make just shy of $70,000 a year, while still enjoying the benefits of class sizes much smaller than those of their statewide peers.
I know CCC prides itself on the small class size, which it equates to an ability to better serve its population. While some students may benefit from the more personal educational environment, given the dire economic times facing education, it seems that this is a luxury that may no longer be economically feasible.
Last fall, when the college asked for options to meet their budget shortfall, I wrote a suggestion to President Larry Galizio suggesting an increase in class sizes, thus limiting the repetitive number of times we offer some classes each term.
Enlarging class sizes, and thereby reducing the number of sections of a class offered each term, would reduce personnel requirements, and this would reduce personnel costs. Students would still get the classes they need perhaps not at the specific time they would like and they would learn in an environment more comparable to that which they will experience at another Oregon community college or university.
If my proposal of increased workloads at times of cutbacks and no pay raises was under consideration, there would have been some rather heated discussions among faculty. There was no such discussion.
Before another tuition hike occurs, all options should be explored. What I proposed leaves faculty without additional pay cuts and students without extra financial burdens. No one likes more work for the same or less pay, but times are tough. The college cannot continue to do business as usual.
Student learning does occur in larger classes. However, student learning cannot occur if the cost of an education soars beyond a students reach. There is another option.
Ocean Park, Wash.