Brown: San Jose-Evergreen Community College District is working hard to serve community
Photo courtesy of SJECCD.

A recent op-ed published by San José Spotlight is rife with misinformation and unsubstantiated claims about San Jose–Evergreen Community College District (SJECCD) and our efforts to serve the community with higher education programs and services. We value community feedback and are always looking for ways to improve our offerings, but facts matter, and the claims made in the recent op-ed are not based in fact.

Despite our efforts to engage them, the authors of the op-ed have a long history of opposing our attempts to serve the community. We remain focused on serving our students and our community despite the many challenges we all face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In recent years, SJECCD has robustly engaged and increased outreach to our local community in an effort to connect with potential students and inform them of the educational opportunities close to home at San Jose City College (SJCC) and Evergreen Valley College (EVC). This has resulted in a substantial increase in local student enrollment in recent years.

As the cost to attend California’s public universities has risen to five times that of attending a community college, more students and their families are relying on SJCC and EVC to save tens of thousands of dollars. We are continually working to increase opportunities for local students to earn college credits, certifications and job skills, or transfer to four-year universities at a reasonable price.

In recent years, SJECCD has seen its enrollment steadily increase while neighboring districts have experienced enrollment declines. Since 2016-2017, SJECCD’s enrollment has gone up more than 12.5 percent while the two neighboring districts cited in the op-ed (Foothill–De Anza Community College District and West Valley–Mission Community College District) have seen enrollment decreases of approximately 7.5 and 9 percent, respectively.

As the COVID-19 crisis continues to wreak havoc on our local community and economy, our community colleges play a vital role in the economic and social recovery of our region. Over the years, SJCC and EVC have trained thousands of nurses, EMTs, medical office professionals and others who are on the front lines of the COVID-19 response in our community.

At SJECCD, we have doubled down on our service to students and the community during the COVID-19 crisis, including providing hundreds of laptops and other technology needed for remote learning as well as emergency grants, free meals and more to students in need.

Additionally, we were among the first community college districts in the state to transition to online instruction and remote operations. This decisive action was taken in order to help slow the spread of COVID-19 throughout the community and increase the safety of our students and employees while ensuring that students remained on track to graduate and transfer to a university or enter the workforce. Our students are accepted as transfers to the UC system at a rate that is among the highest in the state, especially among Asian and Latinx students, who are accepted as transfers from SJCC and EVC to the UC system at rates of 84 and 79 percent, respectively.

Faculty and staff at SJECCD have exhibited unparalleled dedication and commitment to our students and community while making a remarkable transition to online instruction and services in a very short amount of time. Because of this effort, almost no instructional time was lost and students who were on track to graduate were still able to do so.

While our physical campuses are closed, our colleges remain open virtually, and we are currently registering students for summer and fall term classes. With so much ongoing uncertainty because of COVID-19, one thing remains unchanged: San Jose–Evergreen Community College District will continue to provide innovative educational programs and services to our community.

Due to SJECCD’s tradition of strong educational and financial performance and the important role that community colleges will play in regional and statewide recovery, SJECCD Chancellor Dr. Byron D. Clift Breland has been named to both the regional Silicon Valley Economic Recovery and Resilience Council and the California Community Colleges Reopening Workgroup.

As a large employer in the valley, San Jose–Evergreen Community College District has hundreds of faculty and staff members dedicated to serving our students and our entire community. While there is always room for improvement, we strive each day to provide life-changing educational opportunities and live up to our core values of Opportunity, Equity and Social Justice.

Ryan Brown is the public information officer for the San Jose–Evergreen Community College District.

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