February 2018 Advocate: Chancellor’s view on 50% law


50% Law is 100% Outdated

By Ron Galatolo, Chancellor

We invited Chancellor Galatolo to explain the District’s position on the 50% law. His statement is below. -Ed.

The State’s 50 percent law is antiquated and, more significantly, disadvantages students. Developed in 1958, and applied to the former K-14 system (i.e., elementary, secondary and junior colleges), the law presently mandates that districts spend at least 50 percent of their unrestricted funding on direct classroom instruction. Now, 70 years later, this arcane vestige of the former K-14 system does not currently account for the broad range of essential support services needed by and delivered to community college students that go well beyond classroom instruction. These mission critical support systems include academic counseling, learning centers, financial aid, mental health services, career guidance, instructional technology, tutoring, and other vital campus functions such as the bookstore, food services, and transportation. These significant “non-academic” functions, many that don’t reside in the K-12 system, enrich students’ educational experience and reinforce the quality teaching and learning that occurs by talented faculty in the classroom.

This arbitrary delineation of expenses has outlived its usefulness in a contemporary, post-secondary learning environment and does not support our District’s core value of promoting social justice, nor does it advance our mission of equitably providing a world-class education for students. This law, designed specifically for the K-12 environment, is fully incompatible in a present-day community college setting, as it perpetuates an arbitrary and stagnant formula that has lingered since the days of Dwight Eisenhower.

Our system as a whole, and our District in particular, has become much more diverse, complex and sophisticated over the last 70 years. In addition to providing significant funding for classroom instruction, we must also allocate our resources where they ensure the maximum success of our students. We continue to accomplish those objectives by investing in worthy initiatives such as our Promise Programs, Guided Pathways, SparkPoint Centers and closely linked wrap-around support services that provide a safety net for our most vulnerable, marginalized students.

The caption in our Strategic Plan, “Students First,” is not a platitude for our District; it’s the foundation of who we are and what we fundamentally believe. We don’t choose students 50 percent of the time, we always choose students 100 percent of the time.