Students who are shut out of classes they need at Santa Monica College, which is part of the California community-college system, may soon be offered another option—at a significantly higher price, the Los Angeles Times reported. The college is pursuing a plan to set up a nonprofit foundation that would offer some high-demand courses at a cost of about $200 per unit. Fees for regular community-college courses, set by the Legislature, are now $36 a unit, and scheduled to rise to $46 a unit this summer.
Critics question the fairness of Santa Monica’s plan and say it is tantamount to privatizing a public institution, but college officials defend it as a way of increasing access despite drastic cuts in state support. They also believe the plan is on solid legal ground. A spokesman in the state system’s chancellor’s office, however, said it does not appear to comply with state education codes.