By Ry Rivard
A controversial California bill to pass off untold thousands of state college students to nontraditional providers of instruction, some of them for-profit or unaccredited, is dead for now.
The bill, unveiled in March by a powerful California lawmaker, initially would have required the state’s 145 public colleges and universities to grant credit for low-cost online courses offered by outside groups, including for-profits companies, among them the providers of massive open online courses, or MOOCs. The legislation was the subject of massive media coverage, with many citing it as evidence that traditional higher ed models were doomed.
The plan’s chief backer, Democratic State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, is no longer trying to advance the measure and will not do so until at least August 2014. Rhys Williams, the senator’s spokesman, said Steinberg is waiting to see the results of new online efforts by the state’s three public higher ed systems – the California Community Colleges, California State University and the University of California. The public college systems are working to expand their online offerings internally and without outsourcing their students to ed tech start-ups with little to no track record offering for-credit courses.
“The UC, CSU, and Community Colleges plans for online course access are a welcome and positive policy outcome,” William said in an e-mail Wednesday evening. “Senator Steinberg is willing to see how they develop and assess whether they’re effective, before making a decision on whether SB 520 remains necessary.”