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'Living on Leftovers'

February 08, 1988

I couldn't agree more with your editorial supporting community colleges ("Living on Leftovers," Jan. 25).

While you suggest the state could begin to pay a price for its underfunding of the two-year colleges, I maintain that the state is already paying a price.

Research findings show 13% of the population in the Los Angeles Community College District's service area speak only a foreign language at home, while another 20% communicate in both English and a foreign language. Based on U.S. census figures, there are some 410,000 persons in the 18 to 54 age group in the area who speak only a foreign language at home.

While the LACCD currently enrolls some 7,000 students in English-as-a-second language classes, the number of students is expected to grow dramatically. Already, more than 40% of the district's 100,000 students identify themselves as speakers of English-as-a-second language. How are we to support the demand for courses and services for this clientele when funding is, at best, able to maintain only the status quo?

In addition, state reviews of the colleges' mission and functions have suggested a host of reforms to meet changing demographic and educational realities. These demands--whether for improved transfer rates, or increasing occupational training--carry a price tag. Satisfying current demands for ESL programs in the L.A. district alone easily carries a cost of $10 million.

For several years, a hue and cry has been raised over the condition and performance of community colleges. Your editorial confirms what we in the LACCD have been saying all along--reforms and funding go hand in hand.


Interim Chancellor


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