WILL IT BE COMMUNITY COLLEGE, OR HARVARD?
Although she was unanimously confirmed this month by the Senate, state Finance Director Donna Arduin still has critics among lawmakers, many of whom feel she just doesn't understand some fundamental truths about California. Arduin was brought in by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger from Florida, where she held a similar job under Gov. Jeb Bush.
One thing Arduin doesn't get, some critics say, is that the top level of California's higher education system is qualitatively different from most other states. They cite her suggestion that the University of California redirect 10 percent of new admissions to community colleges — delaying arrival at a UC campus in exchange for free community college tuition for two years — as an example of that alleged blind spot.
At last week's meeting, University of California Regent Velma Montoya asked an administrator how UC would select which students would receive a suggestion that they redirect their immediate attention to a community college. She was told that such letters would go out to UC-eligible students who were denied admission to a specific UC campus. At campuses such as Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego and UC Santa Barbara, rejected students are often kids with 4.0 high school grade-point averages and 1300-plus SAT scores — in other words, students who are aggressively recruited by universities across the nation that are eager to attract California's best and brightest high school grads.
Montoya did not think it likely such students would choose to start out at community college if they were rejected at Berkeley, rated the No. 1 public university in the United States. "These are kids who will go to Stanford or Columbia instead," she said.