Besides the budget crisis, the public should know a second storyline is unfolding at Delta College: the reshaping of the college’s mission without much reflection by faculty and staff.
The state budget crisis has become an opportunity to jettison support services for Delta’s most vulnerable students. This summer, the Economic Opportunity Programs and Services and Disabled Student Programs and Services suffered reductions of 31 percent because of cuts in state funding for the programs. Despite carrying over $10 million dollars from the most recent fiscal year, the college used none of that money to help students in these programs.
Although some funding has recently been restored, the college appears to be hedging on its commitment to ensure educational access to all students.
The current round of so-called “strategic” budget cuts have been focused on basic skills — reading, ESL, developmental writing — services for the college’s most vulnerable students.
Of course, judicious cuts to all programs are a financial necessity. However, balancing the budget by slashing these programs so deeply does a disservice to the majority of our students.
Roughly 38 percent of Delta’s students read at or below the sixth-grade level, and another 46 percent read between the sixth- and ninth-grade levels. Without a sound core of support services, many of our students won’t have a reasonable chance of success.
With more “strategic” cuts expected in the spring, the college will soon help many fewer students looking for an educational second chance.
• Sam Hatch is a San Joaquin Delta College faculty member.