News & Events

New Report Finds Degree Gap in California Has Grown to 2.4 Million by 2025

Screenshot 2015-12-02 09.56.19

“California is in trouble” said Lande Ajose, Director of California Competes. “When the master plan was enacted, the state made a promise to ‘guarantee educational access for all.’ While students may have access, that access is not translating into equitable outcomes. That has implications not only for the state’s long term economic prospects but also for creating a coherent social fabric. You can’t have strong and vibrant democracy when you have disparate higher education outcomes whose results reinforce broader social inequalities.”

Click image to view our digital report.


Mind the Gap: Delivering on California’s Promise for Higher Education

Screenshot 2015-12-02 09.56.19

In 2012 California Competes called for the state to articulate specific degree attainment goals to advance our regional economies and local communities.  In this new report, Mind the Gap: Delivering on California’s Promise for Higher Education, California Competes finds that the state now faces a degree attainment gap of 2.4 million by 2025. This figure, which […]


New Executive Director at California Competes

Things are busy here at California Competes! After five years of leading the charge to improve California’s higher education system, Executive Director Bob Shireman is leaving California Competes to become part of the education team at The Century Foundation. (See the announcement here).

“I’m proud of all we’ve been able to accomplish during my time here,” said Shireman. “We shaped the community college growth funding formula, elevated the need for greater statewide coordination of higher education, restored some state oversight of private institutions, and won public access to accreditation reports. I’m leaving behind a great team that will continue to push the state to find ways to improve higher education access and outcomes.”


Update: Innovation Awards distributed to Winning Institutions


On Monday, April 27th, the Committee on Awards for Innovation in Higher Education had its final meeting where the members unanimously approved the expenditure plans for the 14 winning colleges, which includes 1 UC, 7 CSUs and 6 community colleges.[1] (Photos below.) By way of keeping the process transparent, the Department of Finance provided…


Adding Seats Where Access Is Needed Most

Last year’s state budget called for a revised approach to distributing new growth in California’s community colleges. Designed to address problems in the old formula, the new legislation bases funding for growth on two main factors: (1) unmet need within the geographic boundaries of a district, and (2) the effectiveness of a district’s colleges in […]


Prize Money for California Colleges to Think Different(ly)

#CA -logo

California is putting up $50 million in prize money for creative ideas aimed at improving transfer and increasing bachelor degree attainment at the state’s public universities and community colleges. To prompt discussion of possible innovations and to encourage colleges to use this opportunity to think creatively, on Facebook and Twitter we will be sharing a wide variety of ideas.

Issues: More College Degrees

Innovation Prize Committee

Issues: More College Degrees

Update: Charting a Course for Coordination, Oversight and Accountability

There has been some movement in our efforts to promote greater statewide coordination as envisioned in The Road Ahead when AB 1348, sponsored by Speaker Emeritus Pérez, cleared the Senate Education Committee on a bipartisan 6-0 vote on June 25. The bill would replace the defunded California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) and create an oversight […]

Issues: Higher Education Investment Board

Update: Educating Julio and Unmet Need

Incentives for community colleges to reach out to the poor, and to serve them well. Our report, Educating Julio, explained how the community college system selects the students who will be served not only by which districts are allowed to grow their enrollment, but also by which courses and programs the colleges decide to offer, […]

Issues: More College Degrees

Making Accreditation Documents Publicly Available

States and the federal government rely heavily on accrediting agencies to make judgments about whether colleges and universities have the appropriate expertise, resources, and systems to provide quality educational programs. Institutions gain access to billions of dollars in state and federal funding by virtue of securing and maintaining accreditation. The public’s ability to monitor the […]

Issues: Accreditation

Contemplating College Affordability

Few question the critical role that college affordability plays in promoting or inhibiting college access and success. Whether a student’s college choice is affordable can make the difference between whether the student attends or not, and whether he or she completes. To try to make the concept of affordability more concrete, we have built a calculator that provides students with useful (even if not simple) information about the affordability of their college choices, incorporating as many factors as we could.

Issues: More College Degrees

Educating Julio: Identifying & Addressing Community Colleges' 'Unmet Need'

Educating Julio

Our report, Educating Julio, examines strategies for growing our community college enrollment and describes some of the dynamics of community college enrollment that underlie the debate about how “unmet need” should be defined, identified, and addressed.

Issues: More College Degrees

Lande Ajose testifies at Senate Education & Budget joint hearing on accountability in higher ed

Lande Ajose testimony

Dr. Ajose testified at a Senate Education and Budget joint hearing on accountability for postsecondary education performance which provided a framework for informing state budget and policy to meet public needs. She presented the breakdown of California’s degree attainment gap by race and region and spoke on these issues from a workforce perspective.

Issues: Higher Education Investment BoardMore College Degrees

Charting a Course for California's Colleges: State Leadership in Higher Education

Charting a Course

Despite its vast higher education system, California stands out as one of only two states without comprehensive oversight or coordination of higher education. Our new report, “Charting a Course for California’s Colleges: State Leadership in Higher Education,” examines how California and states across the nation guide and coordinate their postsecondary systems, offering lessons for California.

Issues: Higher Education Investment Board

Charles Hatcher discusses persistence and graduation rates for Pell grant recipients at UCs

In an effort to better understand persistence and graduation rates for Pell grant recipients, California Competes has partnered with the University of California’s Office of the President to analyze persistence and completion rates of the 37,461 freshmen who entered the UC system in the fall of 2006.

Issues: More College Degrees

Community College Participation

map preview

California Competes conducted an analysis of where students live and found that many areas of the state that could benefit – where few adults have college degrees – are not being reached. Participation is often low where it should be high. An interactive online map paints the picture, showing community college participation for 1700 zip code areas and allows users to examine community college enrollment by indicators of need.

Issues: More College Degrees

Assembly Higher Education Committee hearing on streamlining transfer in public higher education

Streamlining transfer in public higher education

Today Dr. Ajose testified at the Assembly Higher Education Committee’s hearing on streamlining transfer in public higher education. She discussed the need for more coordinated leadership in higher education, and previewed our upcoming analysis of how community college enrollment varies across the state.

Issues: Higher Education Investment BoardMore College Degrees

Governance that works

CCC governance

While management dysfunction is too common at California’s community colleges, not every college has fallen victim to the confusion created by the state Board of Governors. A number of colleges have instead established shared governance structures that are modeled on successful approaches at other colleges and universities in California and across the country. Here are three examples.

Issues: Local Community College Governance

President Obama should use student feedback as part of college rating system

ACCT conference

Speaking at this week’s Association of Community Colleges Trustees conference in Seattle, Bob Shireman suggested that the federal government consider surveying students directly as part of its plan to provide consumers with better information about colleges…

Issues: More College Degrees

Bob Shireman speaks at Community College Business Officers' Annual International Conference

CCBO Presentation

Bob Shireman was the keynote speaker at the 2013 Community College Business Officers’ annual conference where he provided examples of how improving higher education takes more than slogans and quick fixes but instead requires digging into the policy details. He discussed our work on college enrollment by zip code across the state, the need for […]

Issues: Higher Education Investment BoardLocal Community College GovernanceMore College Degrees

Our college grad map of California shows college degrees by zip code

Bay Area

Take a look at our college degree map of California which shows college attainment numbers across the state and breaks down attainment by zip code area. Based on recent census data, the map shows the proportion of the population 18 years old and above with an associate’s degree or higher.

Issues: More College Degrees

Beyond the headline: Opening up the dialogue about California Community Colleges

WAMO Cover

Read Lande’s blog post looking at Washington Monthly’s article about continuing management dysfunction at California’s community colleges which leaves no one accountable for decision making, and why fixing this dysfunction might not be enough.

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Diversity in the Health Care Professions

Read Lande’s blog post which describes how community colleges can play a key role in diversifying the country’s health care professions and raises the question of cost in relation to the for-profit sector’s rapidly growing health degree market.

Issues: More College Degrees

Bob Shireman speaks at National Journal event on “The New Knowledge Economy”

Bob Shireman was the keynote speaker at National Journal’s event on “The New Knowledge Economy”. Listen to his remarks on the future of higher education and why MOOCs and other online alternatives aren’t a panacea for increasing degree attainment.

Issues: More College Degrees

New Metrics for California Higher Education

Governor Brown’s proposed budget in 2013 included the idea of tying increases in funding for the two public four-year university systems to performance targets. Under his original plan, the University of California (UC), with its nine undergraduate campuses and 184,000 students, and the California State University (CSU), with its 23 campuses and 308,000 undergraduates…

Issues: More College Degrees

Governor Brown's Performance Targets for UC and CSU

Gov Brown Performance Targets

Governor Brown’s Department of Finance in April presented the first draft of performance targets for the state’s public four-year universities, tied to budget increases.

Issues: More College Degrees

Lande Ajose speaks at California Wellness Foundation health professions conference

Lande Ajose was a plenary speaker at the California Wellness Foundation’s conference on increasing diversity in the health professions. Lande’s remarks focused on the low degree attainment rates for African American and Latino students, specifically within the health education pipeline, and the burgeoning for-profit health degree market. Additionally, Lande pointed out ways to improve California’s […]

Issues: More College Degrees

Examples of decision-making confusion


California’s community colleges are burdened by an only-in-California decision-making structure that thwarts rather than values leadership and collaboration. Here, we’ve launched a series of blog posts about how this broken decision-making structure is undermining higher education in California, and how the problem can be fixed.

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Why Arguments Blow Up Instead of Blow Over


There is no surer way to turn two siblings against each other than to tell both of them they are in charge. That truism is the best explanation for the epidemic of dysfunction at community colleges in California, where conflicting laws mean any disagreement can ignite a war.

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Looking for a Villain

Unfortunately, things aren’t looking so good for City College of San Francisco (CCSF). The college’s accreditor, frustrated that the college had not been attentive to problems it had been pointing out for years, set a March 15 deadline for CCSF to make the needed changes. Or else. If the college does not submit an adequate […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Stories of Unfortunate Dysfunction

A well-functioning community college is one of the best ways to help students succeed by providing access to degrees and technical credentials that are crucial in today’s economy. But right now, California’s community colleges are burdened by an only-in-California decision-making structure that thwarts rather than values leadership and collaboration. Here, we’ve launched a series of […]

Issues: AccreditationLocal Community College Governance

California Competes speaks at ACCCA Annual Conference

Robert Shireman was a keynote speaker at the annual conference of The Association of California Community College Administrators.  He addressed issues relating to “faculty primacy” and spoke to the confusion around Academic Senate “10+1 academic and professional matters.” View the 10+1 myths

Issues: Local Community College Governance

San Francisco Chronicle Op-Ed on CCSF governance

Read Bob Shireman’s latest op-ed on CCSF’s continuing struggle to make the changes it needs to keep its accreditation and stay open in the face of a looming deadline. Read the op-ed

Issues: Local Community College Governance

At California Community Colleges, 10+1>11

Ask faculty members in an academic senate what is the most important legislation in California community college history, and they will answer with no hesitation: AB 1725, enacted by the legislature and signed by Governor George Deukmejian in 1988. In their eyes, the bill gave them the right to establish policies on a list of […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

We respond to Chancellor Harris' refusal to address broken decision-making at California Community Colleges

California Competes Response to CCC Refusal

On December 12, 2012, California Competes filed L.C. 1 – a legal challenge with the California Community College (CCC) Board of Governors seeking to repair the broken decision-making process at the 112 local colleges in the system.  The challenge sought to clarify that locally-elected community college trustees are ultimately responsible for the operation of the […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

‘Faculty Primacy’ at the Expense of Student Success

Upon the occasion of his retirement in 2007, a City College of San Francisco vice chancellor was honored in a resolution enacted unanimously by the academic senate. The proclamation commended him for his 25 years of outstanding service as an instructor. It also chronicled his “achievements that helped reshape City College and prepare it for […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

The Missing Signature at Modesto Junior College

The signature page of the new governance handbook at Modesto Junior College tells the whole story. Engaging All Voices, which lays out a process for ensuring broad input into major policy decisions at the college, is signed by the student government representative; it is signed by the staff council and by the heads of two […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Only in California: The Academic Senate Filibuster

The Academic Senate at El Camino College, near Los Angeles, couldn’t take feeling slighted any longer. Over the objections of the Senate, the community college’s vice president had eliminated the study-abroad program to address budget shortfalls. He’d also cut out winter session online classes. To add insult to injury, some of the snubs had no […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

EdSource article explains our legal challenge

Leaders agree that changes are needed to fix regulations that invite discord. “Robert Shireman, executive director of California Competes, blamed the regulation, which he alleged gives excessive power to academic senates representing faculty on individual campuses, for contributing to a host of problems, including preventing colleges from graduating enough students to meet the state’s higher […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

California Competes files a legal challenge that will help improve California Community Colleges

California Competes filed a legal challenge with the California Community College (CCC) Board of Governors asserting that the regulations that provide veto power to academic senates are invalid, illegal and should be reversed. Our legal challenge calls for CCCs to repair the broken decision-making system in California’s community colleges by restoring a clear line of […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Protected: Webinar: Repairing Broken Decision-Making at California Community Colleges

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.


How the academic senate can help save CCSF

Bob Shireman addressed the CCSF faculty to urge them to make it possible to hold trustees fully accountable. His statement shows that the regulations that grant veto power to academic senates: plainly conflict with AB 1725 and other provisions of law; are contrary to accreditor and professional standards; disempower students, staff and the community; disenfranchise […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

CCSF: financial woes and structural causes laid bare by FCMAT report

A report by the Fiscal Crisis and Management Team, a state agency tasked with assisting public colleges and schools through fiscal crises, released a 150-page report warning that CCSF is in “a perilous financial position”: “Under this organizational and cultural model there is no responsibility or accountability because it is often unclear how or by […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Flowchart: how decisions are made (and not made) at California community colleges

In a San Francisco Chronicle commentary, Bob Shireman explains how an obscure rule adopted 22 years ago leads to community colleges that too often cannot adapt to reduced budgets and to the changing needs of the state.  The flowchart below gives a detailed look at the mandated faculty primacy process the state currently imposes on […]

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Bob Shireman testifies at Little Hoover Commission hearing on the re-imagining of California's system of higher education

August 28, 2012 Bob Shireman laid out California Competes’ recommendations around enhancing accountability and creating a Higher Education Investment Board at the Little Hoover Commission’s public hearing on the issues facing California’s higher education system. Read Bob Shireman’s testimony

Issues: Higher Education Investment BoardLocal Community College Governance

CSAC responds to “The Road Ahead”

In a letter to California Competes, Executive Director Diana Fuentes-Michel of the California Student Aid Commission (CSAC) mentioned that CSAC is aligned with many of the California Competes report’s core priorities but believes that some of the implementation, as proposed, is flawed.

Read CSAC’s full letter

Issues: More College Degrees

The Road Ahead:
Higher education, California's promise, and our future economy


California Competes is pleased to share with you our new report, The Road Ahead: Higher education, California’s promise, and our future economy

Download the Full Report (pdf)

Executive Summary (pdf)

Issues: More College Degrees

Press Release: California Competes calls for 2.3 million more completions by 2025

For Release: June 7, 2012 California Competes is pleased to share with you our Council’s report, The Road Ahead: Higher Education, California’s Promise, and Our Future Economy. Before reading the report, take a look at our Press Release

Issues: More College Degrees

The Need for Coordinated Leadership


Informed Planning

This brief argues for a Higher Education Investment Board – an independent Board incorporating the responsibilities of the California Student Aid Commission and developing information to assist policymakers and consumers in making wise choices.

Issues: Higher Education Investment Board

Clear Accountability: Student Success as a System Priority


Clear Accountability

This brief shows that establishing California Community Colleges as an independent and autonomous entity can help California toward its goal of graduating more students on time with the skills they need for good jobs.

Issues: Local Community College Governance

Credential Crunch:
How to Regain California's Economic Standing


This brief lays out how California can get to its goal of 5.5 million additional graduates by 2025 while ensuring that degrees and certificates conferred are meaningful. Download Credential Crunch

Issues: More College Degrees

Campaign for College Opportunity new report demonstrates the economic payoff of investing in higher ed

The Campaign’s news report shows that for every $1 California invests in public higher education, the state will reap $4.50 from taxes on the increased earnings of college graduates and lower costs for providing other state safety net services and incarceration. That’s a net return of 450 percent! Check out the key findings Check out […]

Issues: More College Degrees

Bob Shireman Discusses California and U.S. Goals for Degree Attainment, 2012-2025

Shireman Fullerton Speech

February 22, 2012 CSU Fullerton held a symposium about the evolving future and rising costs of higher education. At this symposium, Bob Shireman discusses California’s need to reboot our expectations around higher education and argues for certain actionable policies to get our state back on track. See a transcript of his speech And watch the […]

Issues: More College Degrees

Bob Shireman pushes for quality at California Student Aid Commission public hearing

Shireman CSAC Testimony

February 23, 2012 The California Student Aid Commission held a public hearing on whether their grants should cover all colleges’ online degree programs. In Shireman’s testimony, he makes the case that the Commission should be concerned about quality at all types of colleges, not just in online programs. See his full tesimony here

Issues: More College Degrees

Lande Ajose discusses the “new normal” at a joint legislative hearing on higher education

February 1, 2012 At a time when California needs to make choices about its priorities, Lande points to some of the steps that must be taken to ensure that our institutions of higher education are improving their effectiveness. See her written public comment here See a video of her public comment here

Issues: More College Degrees

Little Hoover Commission Calls for Focus on Student Outcomes at Community Colleges

February 28, 2012 The Little Hoover Commission on Tuesday urged the Governor and the Legislature to refocus the mission of the community colleges to align policies and resources around fostering student achievement in three core areas: basic skills education, career technical education and preparation for transfer to four-year universities. The Commission also called for the […]

Issues: More College Degrees

Student Success Task Force Recommendations

The Student Success Task Force is examining best practices and effective models within higher education throughout the nation to improve educational achievements in California. Below is an overview and the full recommendations. California Community Colleges Student Success Task Force Draft Recommendations At A Glance (PDF) Student Success Task Force Draft Recommendations Overview (PDF) Read the […]

Issues: More College Degrees

Press Release: Business Executives and Mayors to Focus on California’s Economy and Lack of Skilled Grads

For release June 22, 2011 Contact: Remmert Dekker (415) 343-0830 To view the full press release, click here. To view a list of our council members, click here.

Issues: More College Degrees

Regional Jobs & Education Data


These presentations provide region-by-region information on adult educational attainment, earnings and growth by occupation and educational background, and the characteristics of the education pipeline.     All files are in powerpoint (.ppt) format. Bay Area Central Coast Central Sierra Inland Empire Los Angeles Northern California Orange County Sacramento Tahoe San Diego Imperial County San Joaquin […]

Issues: More College Degrees