Dropping a course or two is customary for students on college campuses all across the nation. But how many times should students be allowed to drop the same class and still be allowed to enroll in the future?

How about three strikes and you're out?

That will be the new state policy for students at Santa Rosa Junior College and other community colleges around the state. And the timing is right.

It comes as SRJC is on the verge of eliminating 370 sections next year as part of another round of budget cuts.

Having students drop courses, particularly late into the semester, comes at a cost to the college. Moreover, it takes a seat away from someone the next time that person enrolls.

The SRJC has put students on notice that these rules are changing this sumer. The new policy will prohibit students from enrolling in the same class more than three times, including those times a student officially withdraws. In those cases, they receives a W on their transcript instead of a grade.

Students who drop a class early enough to avoid getting a W on their transcript are unaffected by the rule change.

The new policy makes sense. In a time of budget austerity and dramatic reductions in course offerings, the state can't afford to be supporting students who repeatedly start off taking the same class, only to drop later. Some drop because they're not ready to do the hard work in the first place. Some have issues that come up in life that prevent them from continuing.

Those things happen, which is why even this new limit is not a hard-and-fast rule. Students will still be allowed to petition to take a course a fourth time if they can show there were extenuating circumstances.

But here's our question: Why should this new rule apply only to students? Shouldn't political leaders and candidates for state office be held to a similar standard — to keep their education commitments?

Schools and colleges throughout California have long been the victim of failed promises by candidates who take up the mantle of improving education only to withdraw from it once the election has passed.

California's once-lauded Master Plan for Higher Education promised that California's 106 community colleges would be the backbone of the state's system of higher education, a refuge for students to have access to low-cost education. It was said to be the place where students could go if there was no room at four-year colleges.

So much for that promise.

<NO1><NO>At the least, political leaders and candidates who vow to protect education and reform the state's archaic tax structure but fail to deliver should receive a W on their record — if not on their wardrobe.

We jest, of course. But it seems to us that as colleges push for students to be more accountable and committed to their education, students deserve no less from their elected representatives.