Superintendent of Schools
Believe it or not, one of the most sensitive topics of late involves RBUSD’s “going to college” culture and movement. I have had this conversation with parents, staff members, my senior staff team and especially with Mr. Brandt, our outstanding RUHS principal. Honestly, I’ve enjoyed the conversations—even the debates, at times. Let me be more specific. I have been told by several people that they believe I’m “anti-community college.” This is simply not an accurate statement. Please allow me to first summarize our RBUSD focus.
Dr. Annette Alpern, our elementary principals and I meet with incoming kindergarten parents at the annual Kindergarten Roundup, usually in January. At that time, I highlight that RBUSD focuses on having our students meet the minimum requirements for eligibility into a four-year college or university. These requirements are also known as A-G courses. I also highlight that now is a great time to begin saving for college, even before the child has entered our kindergarten program. That college bank account is a good symbol for the child about investing in continued education, and it is addressing the most difficult aspect of college for 95 percent of our parents—affordability. Finishing this thought: if as a parent, you believe that college—two-year or four-year—is not for your child, that is a family decision, and we support it. Team RBUSD is not going to “choose” who is going to college by sorting students along the way or limiting opportunities. This is known as institutional discrimination, and RBUSD will not have any part of that. Ultimately, going to college is a parent-child choice. Team RBUSD does not judge a family’s decision; it is our duty to position your child for options, whether college or career.
With all this being said, one of the arguments people make about attending a community college is that it is more affordable and the return on investment (ROI) is more manageable. We all are too aware of the growing national college loan debt—approximately $1.5 trillion—but the ROI doesn’t objectively highlight what a four-year college can provide beyond just moving away from home: a more global understanding of the world and a more informed and better educated citizenry. Yes, that’s idealism to some extent. For those parents and students who are committed to a two-year option, may not be able to afford a four-college, or just do not wish to move away to attend a four-year school, I say, great. You considered it, RBUSD prepared you, you weighed your options, and you are choosing to attend an excellent community college, for example, El Camino. For a short period of time in high school, I considered attending El Camino. For a short period of time in my son’s high school experience, we considered a community college. In the end, we chose a different path. I can ardently argue that for both Jaxon and me, our college experiences were priceless. In my own case, I attended a private liberal-arts college with zero financial support from my parents—I earned scholarships and grants and secured several loans. Even with my debt-ridden personal experience, it’s my own personal experience and a decision that my older brother and I made. I personally saw plenty of my friends decide to attend El Camino even if they had SAT scores and gradepoint averages superior to mine. And yet almost anyone reading this who went away to college and experienced the four years—maybe even five—in a completely different context will likely share what valuable lessons they learned that have helped them become better people, citizens, employees and even parents.
My point is this: ROI should not be the only driving force involved in selecting a community college. The experience that comes from living on campus, meeting people from other states and countries, doing your own laundry, and a host of other examples hold a value—a form of ROI— that is beyond dollars and cents. RBUSD will keep all opportunities for all students wide open—because of this preparation, the choice is yours.