Today’s Headlines: California community college enrollment drops to a 30-year low

The exterior of Los Angeles City College has a sign, "LACC: Make it yours."
California’s 115 community college campuses could face steep funding cuts with the decrease in enrollment.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

By Elvia Limón and Laura Blasey

Hello, it’s Wednesday, Nov. 23, and here are the stories you shouldn’t miss today:


California community college enrollment has plummeted

Enrollment at the state’s community colleges has dropped to its lowest level in 30 years, new data show, a decline that has educators scrambling to meet students’ changing needs as many question the value of higher education after harsh pandemic years.


Since pre-pandemic 2019, the state’s 115 campuses have collectively lost about 300,000 students, an alarming 18% drop that could lead to significant funding cuts if enrollment does not increase.

That uncertainty has put the financial viability of some colleges at risk. But the losses have also pushed the system to an inflection point, prodding colleges to reimagine themselves.

President Biden extended the student loan pause

The president announced his administration would extend the pause on federal student loan payments. The moratorium was slated to expire Jan. 1, a date that Biden set before his debt cancellation plan stalled in the face of legal challenges from conservative opponents.

“It isn’t fair to ask tens of millions of borrowers eligible for relief to resume their student debt payments while the courts consider the lawsuit,” Biden said.


More politics

  • The Supreme Court denied former President Trump’s plea to shield his tax returns from being turned over to a House committee.
  • Republican state lawmaker Kevin Kiley is headed to Congress after besting Democrat Kermit Jones in the race for an open seat that covered a sprawling expanse of rural California.
  • Holding on to Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock’s seat in Georgia’s runoff next month could be crucial to Democrats’ success. If Warnock bests Republican Herschel Walker, Democrats will have 51 seats, making legislating easier than in the current 50-50 Senate.
  • Sheila Kuehl, retiring at 81, was honored at her final L.A. County Board of Supervisors meeting.

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Club Q represented the opposite of what the shooting evoked

In its most trying hour, as a lone gunman waged war on its patrons, Club Q in Colorado Springs, Colo., remained what its clientele had long cherished: a source of kindness and community, a place where people look out for one another.

Amid the stories of heartbreak and devastation from Saturday night’s shooting, which left five dead and 18 others injured, there are also tales of heroism, selflessness and deep compassion — based in part on the special kinship that queer people and their allies naturally share.

Particularly in an era of political attacks on LGBTQ establishments like Club Q, which had been set to host a drag brunch for “all ages” on Sunday, it’s a legacy that must not be forgotten or ignored, locals say.

As farms went idle this year, drought cost California agriculture $1.7 billion

California has just gone through the state’s driest three-year period on record, and this year the drought has pushed the fallowing of farmland to a new high.

In a new report, researchers estimated that California’s irrigated farmland shrank by 752,000 acres, or nearly 10%, in 2022 compared with 2019 — the year prior to the drought. Gross crop revenues fell $1.7 billion, or 4.6%, this year. And an estimated 12,000 agricultural jobs were lost.

The researchers said California lacked sufficient programs to assist laborers who lost farm jobs. They said it’s crucial “to identify and assist communities that rely on seasonal and permanent agricultural jobs that are vulnerable to drought.”

An L.A. prosecutor was put on leave over a questionable case sparked by election conspiracy theories

Deputy Dist. Atty. Eric Neff has been placed on administrative leave for his role in the questionable prosecution of a Michigan software executive that may have been sparked by conspiracy theorists who deny the validity of the 2020 presidential election.

Neff’s leave comes in the wake of Dist. Atty. George Gascón’s decision to drop charges against Eugene Yu, chief executive of Michigan-based Konnech, according to three sources with knowledge of the situation. Yu’s firm, which has contracts with L.A. election officials, had been accused of storing data about poll workers on Chinese servers.

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A man on a skateboard rides a handrail on a set of stairs outside a large building.
An iconic skateboarding spot: There are stairs and then there is Hollywood High 16. The Times’ Image Magazine spoke to skaters about this special spot. Above, Kyle Walker rides the rail. Read:An oral history of Hollywood High 16.
(Sam Muller / For The Times)


L.A. voters approved more money to fight homelessness. Now they want to see results. In a new survey, nearly 89% of L.A. city voters said they expected the new mayor to reduce homelessness by at least half during her four-year term. A majority said they thought the money should lead to a decline in homelessness in two to four years, and nearly 20% thought that would happen in just a year.

California aims to maximize health insurance subsidies for workers during labor disputes. Freezing health insurance benefits is a common tactic in a labor dispute because, without them, workers might be more easily persuaded to concede to management’s demands. But California lawmakers are giving an edge to strikers.

The L.A. City Council passed a law to give retail workers with erratic hours more stability. The new law requires large retailers to give workers their employment schedule at least two weeks in advance. The law also requires businesses to give workers at least 10 hours’ rest between shifts or provide extra pay for that work.

Kobe Bryant’s daughter Natalia filed a restraining order against an alleged stalker. Natalia Bryant, 19, alleges that a 32-year-old Sun Valley man started to harass her on social media in 2020, when she was 17 and a senior at Sage Hill School in Newport Coast. Kemp is described as a gun enthusiast in Bryant’s filing for a temporary restraining order in Los Angeles Superior Court.

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Six people were killed in a shooting at a Virginia Walmart. The shooting occurred around 10 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday at the store in Chesapeake, police said. Officers found multiple dead and injured people at the site. The assailant is also dead.

The holiday travel rush is back. At airports around the country, people caught planes in numbers not seen in years, setting aside inflation concerns to reunite with loved ones and enjoy some normalcy after two holiday seasons marked by COVID-19 restrictions.

Some states are trying to keep a Trump asylum policy in place. A coalition of conservative-leaning states is making a last-ditch effort to keep in place the public health rule that allows many asylum seekers to be turned away at the southern U.S. border. Late Monday, the 15 states filed what’s known as a motion to intervene.

A new study explains how cooking food and gathering for feasts made us human. The study found what could be the earliest known evidence of cooking: the leftovers of a roasted carp dinner from 780,000 years ago. Cooking food marked more than just a lifestyle change for our ancestors. It helped fuel our evolution, gave us bigger brains and brought communities together.


As all-star whodunits go, “Glass Onion” has enormous appeal. In Rian Johnson’s enjoyably deft sequel to “Knives Out,” a post-007 Daniel Craig is back as Benoit Blanc, that Southern sleuth who can always be counted on to disrupt a killer’s scheme. It feels like a criminal disservice to the movie’s slyly tuned jokes and ingenious surprises that it will only play in theaters for a week, writes film critic Justin Chang.

“Welcome to Chippendales” is an engrossing trip back in time to seedy 1980s L.A. Screaming drunk secretaries, gyrating hunks in G-strings and mountains of cocaine populate “Welcome to Chippendales,” Hulu’s wonderfully lurid drama about the rise of “the world’s greatest male-stripping empire” and the deadly rivalry that took it down, writes Times critic Lorraine Ali.

“Everything Everywhere All at Once” leads the Spirit Award nominations. The multiverse-hopping adventure film received a leading eight nominations for the Film Independent Spirit Awards, with nods for best feature and director. Other top contenders include the classical music thriller “Tár,” “Aftersun,” “Women Talking” and “Bones and All.”

Commentary: “Star Wars” has always been political. “Andor” made it must-see TV. A prequel of a prequel, “Andor” stars Diego Luna as future Rebellion spy Cassian Andor. It’s become the jewel in the crown of “Star Wars” television.


What happens when CEOs return? History has some lessons for Bob Iger and Disney. There’s something to be said about a known quantity, particularly when it comes to chief executives — it worked for Apple and Starbucks. But not all returning CEOs do better the second time around.

Don’t get scammed this holiday season. Here’s what to watch out for. The shopping rush, big sales and charity appeals create a slew of opportunities for scammers to entice people to click on malware boobytraps, reveal sensitive personal information and cough up cash in response to deceptive emails and texts. But you don’t have to be a Grinch to protect yourself. One tip: Copy an unknown website’s domain name from the address bar in your browser, then search for that term along with the word “scam” or “review.”


End the romance of Thanksgiving, as a great Pequot scholar argued two centuries ago. In the 1820s and 1830s, a Pequot minister named William Apess took aim at what would become Thanksgiving — arguing that the nation needed to rethink the colonization of New England, and view it through Indigenous perspectives.

How to talk to your disagreeable uncle at Thanksgiving. Research shows Thanksgiving dinners have gotten shorter as partisan hostility has risen. People would rather skip dessert than hear a relative’s political rant. One solution: the “common identity” strategy. Rather than amplifying conflict — like extremists want — talk about the norms and values you share. There might be time for pie.

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An L.A. jury found the NCAA was not responsible for the death of a former USC linebacker. Attorneys could not convince the jury in Los Angeles Superior Court that the NCAA had failed to protect Matthew Gee from repetitive head trauma that led to his death. A coroner had tied Gee’s death to cardiac arrest and acute alcohol and cocaine toxicity. Jurors did not believe chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) led to Gee’s death.

How Mexico’s Memo Ochoa shut out Robert Lewandowski and Poland. With a World Cup game hanging in the balance, Ochoa rose to the occasion and Lewandowski did not. The Mexican goalkeeper made a spectacular save on the Polish captain’s penalty shot to preserve a 0-0 draw before a crowd of 39,369 at Doha’s Stadium 974.

With no accountability, Mater Dei coach Bruce Rollinson retired under a dark cloud. Rollinson ended a 34-year tenure as arguably the most powerful figure in Southern California sports with no more insight other than, “I have recently decided that this year will be my last year as head coach of Mater Dei football.” Who does that? Somebody who is being forced out, that’s who, writes columnist Bill Plaschke.


The mysteries still hiding in the stinky goo of the La Brea Tar Pits. Audience engagement editor Rachel Schnalzer tackles a reader-submitted question about Los Angeles’ internationally recognized geological heritage site. For those who don’t know, the site is famous for its many fossil quarries (referred to as “pits”) where animals, plants and insects have gotten stuck and preserved in asphalt over the last 50,000 years.

To scientists, they’re a priceless, unique treasure trove of information that allows us to better understand what ancient life was like in Los Angeles. Of course, there’s plenty we don’t know — and that may be the spookiest part.


A man sits in a chair at a desk and writes on a pad of paper, with a cigarette in his other hand.
Nov. 23, 1916: The Times ran this image of Jack London with a front-page obituary the day after his death.
(Los Angeles Times)

One hundred and six years ago this week, on Nov. 22, 1916, Jack London died at his Glen Ellen, Calif., ranch. The author died of uremic poisoning at 40 years old.

The Times wrote the next day of a California native son who had gained fame — with “The Call of the Wild” and other books — as well as financial success: “London was a prolific writer. Every day of the year, according to those who knew his habits of industry, London wrote 1000 words — no more, no less. At the time of his death his contracts called for 10 cents a word. His income is said to have been close to $40,000 a year.”

A Times article in 1994 noted London was the first American writer to earn more than a million dollars. Yet he was slow to gain respect in literary and academic circles, pigeonholed “as a writer of juvenile dog stories.” He was satisfied with what he’d accomplished, however, writing a year before his death: “I have been luckier than many hundreds of millions of men in my generation have been lucky, and, while I have suffered much, I have lived much, seen much, and felt much that has been denied to the average man. Yes, indeed, the game is worth the candle.”

Times staff writer Amy Hubbard contributed to this report.

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