The decision is now

As our community’s high school seniors this spring are deciding what their next steps will be after they get their diploma in Junes, consider our county’s community colleges. We offer an excellent value by providing a high-quality and affordable higher education.

Ventura College offers programs that prepare students for transfer to a four-year degree program or equips them with an associate’s degree or certificate and workforce-ready skills. Our students can successfully transfer to a four-year university or step into in-demand jobs with good pay.

For those seeking a career in two years, Ventura College offers some great options. Many of these jobs — in healthcare, vehicle maintenance, sales, construction and production, among others — are among those with the highest 10-year growth rate, according to the Centers of Excellence for Labor Market Research (October 2015). All this spells opportunity for today’s students.

For example, there are 5,437 projected job openings in life, physical and social sciences for people with associate’s degrees. Ventura College’s water sciences program graduates go on to work in water supply and wastewater management. In 2013-14, Ventura County region water operators had an entry-level wage of $21.23; wastewater generally pays up to $2 an hour more. For a student with necessary certificates, the median wage is around $26 an hour.

In the fall, we’re launching a diesel technology program in partnership with Gibbs Truck Centers. The program can accommodate 24 students who will face excellent job prospects when they graduate. There are an estimated 158,772 openings projected in the installation, maintenance and repair category through 2025.

Based on occupational employment projections through 2025, there will be more jobs for employees with an associate’s degree and/or state licensing/registration and industry-awarded certificate than the pool of applicants, according to the Centers of Excellence for Labor Market Research report.

The report goes on to say that by 2025, more than 700,000 openings are projected for careers that require an associate’s degree, postsecondary non-degree award or some college.

This makes middle-skill jobs attractive for high school students planning their future livelihoods.

What’s more, community colleges are a tremendous value to those seeking career and technical education, an associate’s degree, or who are working toward a bachelor’s degree by completing their first two years at a community college.

Because many students face financial barriers, we have an essential partnership with the Ventura College Foundation, which has a robust scholarship and grant program to help all students realize their educational goals.

The Ventura College Foundation offers the Promise, a grant program for recent high school graduates that covers the cost of students’ enrollment fees and health fees for the first year. It has a number of other private scholarships and grants it distributes, totaling about $500,000 in assistance to students each year.

Ventura College also has dedicated financial aid staff who provide hands-on help to prospective students with applications for financial aid.

About 40 percent of Ventura College students are first in their families to attend college. We’re particularly proud of the success of our “first-in-family” students in completing associate degrees and moving on to four-year colleges or joining the workforce to contribute to our region’s economic vitality. These jobs lift up our entire community.

Ventura College is focused on helping students achieve their dreams by providing quality instruction by caring faculty; a safe, beautiful campus; and support services that connect higher education to any student with a desire to learn, regardless of ability to pay. Graduating high school seniors owe it to themselves to check out Ventura College and the other community colleges as sound options for a great future.

Greg Gillespie, PhD.
President, Ventura College

Time to face reality

Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been telling Bernie Sanders’ voters that it’s time to face reality and call it quits.

Here is the reality: Three million voters in New York (independent voters who have overwhelmingly supported Bernie Sanders in the 2016 primaries) were not allowed to vote because New York has a closed primary which allows only Democrats to vote.

In Brooklyn, 126,000 voters were purged from the rolls.  Since 62 percent of New York voters are Democrats, that means 88,000 Democrats were purged in the borough where Bernie was born.

Hillary won New York by 390,614, so we all have to face the reality that Bernie would have won New York by a landslide even if he had won only half the three million independents and half the 88,000 purged Democrats.

Wherever Bernie has run in open primaries which allow independents to vote, he has won — New Hampshire, Vermont, Michigan and Wisconsin. 

“He wins independents who say they’re going to vote in a Democratic primary, and it doesn’t matter what their ideology is — whether they’re moderate or liberal, he wins them,” explained Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute (Politico 4/4/16).

And here’s the final reality: In the biggest primary of all, California on June 10, about 375,000 voters who mistakenly think they have registered independent because they have signed up with the American Independent Party, will not be able to vote Democratic unless they change their registration at the last minute by May 23.

Bernie has been saying all along that the electoral system is rigged.

That’s the reality we all have to face.

Clive Leeman

If Trump wins

If there could be a silver lining to a Trump presidency, it might be that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, would be waterboarded. The major stink behind this election cycle (after all the smoke-and-mirror theatrics are over) is that the system is still rigged — not broken. As Mark Twain put it, “If voting made any difference, they wouldn’t let us do it.

John A. Whelan