Ashley A Smith
May 27, 2021
When former California Gov. Jerry Brown envisioned Calbright College barely five years ago, he saw California leading the country in virtual education by building an online-only community college that would target working adults seeking to improve their skills and move into better-paying jobs.
Today, just a year and a half since the embattled college opened its doors to students, Brown remains one of its chief defenders. He still sees the college as the public solution to predatory for-profit institutions that targeted adult and low-income workers in the state to pursue degrees and credentials, sometimes at the cost of excessive student loans.
“The concept of Calbright is more relevant than ever,” said Brown, 83 who retired in 2019 after ending a second stint as the state’s Democratic governor. “There’s more money now in higher education than ever before, so it’s not a money question. It’s the concept. Could the for-profit online colleges receive a public option? Could they face some competition from a public option, which Calbright represents? It’s a very attractive alternative for working people, not the fancy elites, but people who are struggling to improve their lot in life by upgrading their skills and doing so in a way that is affordable.”