Governor Signs CalChamber-Supported Education Bill

A California Chamber of Commerce-supported bill that creates a comprehensive framework to allow more high school students to concurrently enroll in community college courses offered at a nearby community college campus or at their high school was signed by Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. yesterday.

AB 288 (Holden; D-Pasadena) provides high school students with increased access to college-level CTE coursework, gives them a head-start on transferring to a four-year institution, improves high school graduation rates and helps high school students achieve college and career readiness by authorizing high school districts and community college districts to partner and offer dual enrollment programs that further these purposes.

Expands College and Career Pathways

Improving educational attainment rates is arguably one of the most important things policy makers can do to ensure the long-term health of our economy, and to improve the lives of future generations of Californians. While the percentage of Californians who have attended at least some college has grown in recent years, educational attainment rates are increasing far too slowly to keep pace with the growing needs of California’s economy.

The state Employment Development Department (EDD) estimates that there will be an additional 2.6 million new jobs by 2020, 64% of which will require at least some college training. If current college participation rates continue, however, the state will be short at least 1 million workers with bachelor’s degrees, and short an additional 1 million to 1.5 million workers with some college training by 2025.

To meet these needs, the state education system needs to become more flexible, and create clearer pathways between high school and the workforce. Expanding concurrent enrollment programs for high school students, as AB 288 does, creates an important pathway that will benefit many students, regardless of their goals.

AB 288 allows students to participate in concurrent enrollment programs for remediation, and will give at-risk students exposure to coursework that relates to career opportunities in key industry sectors, increasing their engagement and encouraging them to complete high school and possibly pursue post-secondary training. The measure also gives high-achieving students opportunities to take college-level coursework that counts toward their high school graduation requirements and an associate’s degree, saving them money and time as they work toward transferring to a four-year college or university.

All students will benefit from increased access to career technical education aligned to local workforce needs, which many high schools currently do not have the capacity or faculty to provide. In this way, AB 288 helps students who need extra support, encourages more students who might otherwise opt out of post-secondary education to enroll, and provides new challenges for students who already are excelling in high school.

The Governor has until October 11 to sign or veto any remaining legislation on his desk.

Staff Contact: Mira Morton