ISSUES

Success for All Students

Completion by Design – Guided Pathways to Success

There are few barriers to admission to Foothill and De Anza. They are “open access” institutions. Ensuring open access, however, does not mean every student has an equal opportunity to succeed at college.

All students face challenges, particularly here in high-cost Silicon Valley —

Many have limited finances that make paying for books and supplies, along with housing, food, transportation, and other necessities difficult.

Many are first generation college-going students who have few relatives or friends who can coach them on how to navigate the system.

A small number have all the potential to succeed in college but not without reasonable accommodations for mobility or other impairments.

Some students (recently discharged veterans for example) might struggle to adjust to the institution’s culture, one that is significantly different from what they are accustomed to.

Foothill and De Anza have focused on responding to the many disparate needs of its students and strive to ensure all students have a fair and equitable chance to succeed, but that struggle is more difficult and urgent now than ever. Peter is insistent that making sure students from all backgrounds succeed in reaching their goals and improving their families and community remains at the top of Foothill-De Anza’s priorities.  

It is not uncommon for students to experience curriculum standards, teaching methods, and assessment procedures in high school that are quite different from what they will experience at Foothill or De Anza. As a result, they often do poorly on college administered placement tests and struggle to perform well in college. It shouldn’t be that way.

The transition from high school to college should be straightforward and seamless and the path a student needs to take to complete a degree, certificate, or other educational goal should be clear and efficient. Among other things, that will require closer cooperation between the colleges and local high schools, a process that starts with more robust collaboration between college and high school faculty and staff to identify hurdles and identify ways to minimize or eliminate them.

It also requires better, more timely advising and other college processes and procedures that ensure students can achieve their educational goals in the shortest amount of time with few, if any, unnecessary units. In other words, the colleges’ systems need to be carefully designed to ensure the successful, timely completion of students’ educational goals. As a board member, Peter has been a consistent champion of the colleges’ efforts to redesign college systems so that each year more students transfer to UC or CSU,  more students complete career education programs that lead to good jobs, fewer unnecessary units are taken as students work their way to a degree, and achievement gaps are eliminated once and for all. 

Remaining Fiscally Sound and Academically Strong

The fallout from the COVID pandemic is broad and deep:

It has generated a public health crisis that has forced Foothill and De Anza to make significant changes in the way they provide programs and services. Some of those changes are likely to remain even when the immediate public health crisis is over.

It has exposed existing racial, economic, and social inequities in the United States and is having a disproportionately adverse effect on low-income students and their families, communities of color, immigrants, and people with disabilities. That disparity underlines the urgency of addressing issues of equity and social justice.

The pandemic has also sparked a severe recession that will inevitably affect District funding. The issue is not if there will be budget reductions, the issue is how soon the reductions will hit and how big they will be.

To respond to these challenges the District will need leaders who have the knowledge, experience, and commitment to guide the colleges in a way that will ensure they remain fiscally sound and academically strong. With a career of more than thirty years as a community college executive, Peter is one of those leaders.

Landsberger for Foothill-De Anza Trustee 2020, FPPC No. 1428134