CA Student Record Database Goes MIA
Established in 1974, the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) was tasked with coordinating student records between the state's three major collegiate systems, as well as working on ways to improve education policies for students within those systems. In July 2011, the recently re-elected Governor Jerry Brown eliminated CPEC from the state budget, prompting concerns about the future of academia in California.
Why CPEC Existed, and Why It Doesn't
With three public systems of higher education, California has the largest collegiate network in the country. The University of California, California State University and California Community College all contribute to the massive wealth of higher education in the state. For over 30 years CPEC has coordinated efforts between the three, keeping statistics on enrollment, graduation, transfers and more. They also act as a policy-advising body, making recommendations to the state to improve educational conditions.
In May 2011, California's recently re-elected Governor Jerry Brown (who first held the office from 1975-1983) announced his plans to eliminate CPEC. His chief concern was its purported redundancy. 'The functions it performs are either advisory in nature or can be performed by other agencies,' Brown noted.
That's left some wondering what will happen to all those records kept by CPEC. Since it started collecting data in 1976, CPEC's archives have proven to be a significant help to legislators, researchers, journalists and even the general public. Will the last 35 years of records be lost?
What Comes Next
Of course no one in California wants to see that happen, and there are already plans to migrate CPEC's data elsewhere. Specifically, The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that it'll be taken up by the state's community college system, and California's two 4-year systems will still share the same information they've given CPEC in the past.
Even if that data collection sticks around, though, CPEC's elimination may end up affecting higher education in California. Skeptics wonder if the state's community college system will be able to offer the same access to the data that CPEC formerly did, which included operating an open website that could generate reports for any interested parties. In other words, even if collection keeps up, access may falter, making its storage seem less relevant in the first place. Additionally, without an overseeing body to guide it, communication between California's three collegiate systems may become a more rocky endeavor.
And then there's the fact that California is losing one of its key higher education policymaking institutions. As Governor Brown pointed out, that task can be performed by other bodies, but unlike the rest, CPEC is an independent agency established for that sole purpose. Perhaps, as Governor Brown posits, its elimination will help ease state budget issues, but it may also cause some undesirable hiccups in an important aspect of California life.
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