California higher education at 'code red,' says Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom at Long ...

LONG BEACH gt;gt; Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom sounded an alarm for the future of California#x2019;s higher education system Wednesday.#x201c;I think it#x2019;s code red of sorts,#x201d; Newsom said, prior to participating in a panel discussion at Long Beach City College. #x201c;We can#x2019;t continue to do what we#x2019;ve done...I think the world is changing in such intensely radical ways that none of us can necessarily explain it or even (take pause) to understand it.#x201d;About 75 academic, civic and community leaders gathered to hear a panel discussion on a report by the Washington, DC-based research group Committee for Economic Development titled #x201c;Boosting California#x2019;s Postsecondary Education Performance.#x201d;

The report, released in November, with an introduction by Newsom, looks at California#x2019;s college system and addresses demographic shifts, projected shortages of educated workers and financial barriers for students.According to Patrick M. Callan, president of the National Center for Public Policy and author of the report, the Golden State#x2019;s colleges and universities no longer produce enough graduates to ensure California prosperity and 21st Century opportunities for workers. A key focus for the future will be increasing access for minority students. According to the report, just 19 percent of the state#x2019;s Latinos have attended postsecondary education, with only 11 percent having earned a bachelor#x2019;s degree, compared to 41 percent for whites.

Callan, who moderated the discussion Wednesday, said California#x2019;s public education system has not adapted to the rapid economic and technological changes in recent years. The system is still largely rooted in a post-WWII economy, according to Callan. #x201c;It doesn#x2019;t start by saying what#x2019;s wrong with our colleges, or what#x2019;s good about them,#x201d; Callan said of the report. #x201c;It says look at the world. Look at the economy. Look at the demographics. Look at society#x2019;s needs, and then figure out what our agenda ought to be.#x201d;

The panel included Susan Crockett, director of clinical workforce development at Long Beach Memorial and Miller#x2019;s Children Hospital of Long Beach; Alma Salazar, vice president of education and workforce development for the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce; Lou Anne Bynum, executive vice president of college advancement and economic development LBCC; David Dowell, interim provost and senior vice president at Cal State Long Beach. In a sweeping discussion about the need to transform higher education, panelist ideas included a need for the state to outline goals for the Cal State University, University of California and California Community College systems, tying funding to results, and better tailoring higher education to modern workforce needs.

Bynum said employers are seeing a misalignment of skills among college graduates, adding that the state is at a pivotal point where innovation must drive how education is delivered. Industries don#x2019;t care so much about degrees earned, but instead are looking at certified skills, she said. #x201c;There is a huge urgency, with business, to be able to make sure that we#x2019;re producing the right kinds of skill sets that they need,#x201d; Bynum said. Newsom is asking college and business leaders to sponsor a forum in 2015 to assess progress made in addressing issues raised by the CED report.

Contact Josh Dulaney at 562-714-2150

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