Calls to change funding to increase faculty diversity at California Community Colleges

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Credit: Julie Leopo/EdSource

Lunch time during the first week of school at Laney College in Oakland in 2014.

A prominent state lawmaker, advocates and a faculty association are calling for changes in how California funds efforts to bring diversity to community college faculties across the state.

“There does need to be a fix to this issue,” Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager, D-Los Angeles, vice chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, said in a statement. She is also a former trustee of the Los Angeles Community College District. 

The calls came in response to an EdSource investigation published Monday that revealed how an arcane state law fails to adequately fund efforts to increase the diversity of the community colleges faculty which is largely white while the student body is richly diverse.

“Studies show that teachers of the same ethnic/racial background as the students they teach have higher expectations of them. That is what we want and need. It underscores the importance and necessity of representation,” she said.

Efforts to increase faculty diversity at 73 local community college districts are funded by little-known fines that districts pay when they don’t employ enough full-time, tenure or tenure track faculty, EdSource found.

The 73 districts operate the state’s 115 community colleges. The fine does not apply to Calbright College, the state’s 116th college, which operates online and is not in a local district.

Even with occasional discretionary state funding, the total does little to diversify an overwhelmingly white faculty that teaches a diverse population of 1.2 million full-time students.

The fine system was created to ensure colleges employee enough full-time faculty, Kamlager said. “It was not designed to diversify the faculty pool.” But that is what lawmakers designated the money for in 2015. 

Kamlager was elected…