The Century Foundation has released a report, Bridging the Higher Education Divide, with recommendations of great importance to the Latino community and others that rely on community colleges as the gateway to higher education. The report recommends “adequacy” as a standard for community college funding, which would shift financing from a focus on equal access to equal outcomes. The report encourages equity advocates in states with constitutional guarantees to an education to consider law suits to press for more equitable funding. Adequacy based funding would allocate funds to students with the greatest need. If the adequacy standard were to be used by policy makers, Latino students and communities would benefit from an infusion of funds into Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), which do more than their share to serve lower income communities.
CUE endorses the adequacy standard, and has called for it previously.However, law suits are a resource-intensive proposition, which may exhaust considerable political capital at a time when equity advocates are pressing forward on access to college and financial aid for undocumented students. Bridging the Higher Education Divide makes additional recommendations that may be more politically viable and that may be more effective in garnering resources to support Latino student success.
The report’s recommendation to strengthen transfer pathways resonates with the goals of the federal Title V HSI-STEM programs, which will invest a billion dollars in community to four-year college transfer programs by the end of the decade. The report’s recommendation to attach expectations for performance accountability to new funding is timely, as faculty, administrators, and legislators in many states are currently engaged in crafting new accountability strategies.