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Bernie Rhinerson Prioritizes Achievement for Community Colleges

by Michael Higham, published

Community colleges are an essential part of San Diego's success as a city. Students either earn career and technical certification or transition into a university. Bernie Rhinerson believes it is the job of the community colleges and its board of trustees to secure the connections between the education provided and the students' next step.

Bernie Rhinerson is a candidate for the San Diego Community College District (SDCCD) Board of Trustees. He highlights his priority for community colleges in his ballot statement:

Completion of an A.A. or A.S. degree must lead to placement in a four year college or university. Our career technical programs must also be linked to real world job opportunities. This extremely difficult economy is not the time to cut back on access to critically needed education and job training.

Rhinerson sees two of the biggest challenges facing SDCCD as completion rates and funding. He explains how he would take on those challenges:

To increase completion rates, I support the recommendations of the Student Success Task Force, which Chancellor Dr. Constance Carrol participated in. These recommendations would make substantive changes to student assessments, registration policies and other policies that will help students make progress on their educational plans and help move them toward a degree and skills certifications.

Bernie Rhinerson is referring to the Student Success Act, which was signed by Governor Jerry Brown in September. The bill is for increasing effective matriculation to make sure students understand the requirements for completion.

On the issue of funding, Rhinerson says he "will be a strong advocate for public education funding." He is a proponent of Governor Jerry Brown's initiative Proposition 30. Mr. Rhinerson stresses the return of investment when governments invest in education:

A recent study by the Campaign for College Opportunity shows that for every dollar that California invests in students who graduate, the state will receive a net benefit on that investment of four dollars and fifty cents. Education is a great investment for our state.

The race for the community college board is not a highly publicized contest. Candidates who seek to represent educational institutions do not have the same resources as politicians. Bernie Rhinerson says his biggest challenge is getting name identification with voters and, of course, raising money. He further added: "It is also a challenge to campaign when you have a full time job. This is truly a public service position and not a political career for me."

Since the community college board election is a low-profile race, Bernie Rhinerson recommends that voters should:

Get informed about the candidates and choose a candidate who has the best experience and commitment for the position. The community college board needs a leader who understands public education and who will be a strong advocate for students and for the benefits that public education brings to our local economy.

Bernie Rhinerson is a two time graduate of San Diego State University. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's in Public Administration. He is currently the chief of staff for the San Diego Unified School District and teaches public administration at SDSU. He was also a past president of the SDSU Alumni Association.

Bernie Rhinerson also has 30 years experience in private business. He has worked at Stoorza, Ziegaus & Metzger, Four Square Productions, and Southwest Strategies in high executive positions.

One seat is open for the San Diego Community College Board of Trustees, as current District B representative Bill Schwandt is retiring. District B covers northern San Diego including Mira Mesa and Scripps Ranch. Bernie Rhinerson is running for the open seat against renewable energy businessman Scott Hasson.

The San Diego Community College District includes three campuses: Mesa, City, and Miramar College. SDCCD also includes six Continuing Education campuses, where SDUSD board candidate Marne Foster has worked extensively.

In the 2009-2010 academic year, SDCCD enrolled a total of 131,403 students. 74,126 were attending one of the three undergraduate campuses and 60,273 were attending Continuing Education campuses.

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