Tuesday, October 5, 2010

White House Summit On Community Colleges

Today the White House held a massive summit on Community Colleges. This is crucial for putting such institutions center stage.

Most higher education is very expensive and, therefore, favors the wealthy and powerful. Community Colleges serve the middle and working classes. It follows that this is higher education for the rest of us, for the people! We have a moral duty as a nation to support such colleges.

The Chronicle of Higher Education provides a good analysis of the merits and problems with this summit and the administration's treatment of Community Colleges. Rightly angry that the funding for Community college has been greatly cut from what Obama originally promised, as well as the hasty and half-hearted nature of the entire summit, the Chronicle nonetheless claims that
most participants said they were looking forward to the event and appreciated the fact that the summit will thrust community colleges into the spotlight like never before .... At least three national efforts to expand the work of community colleges are scheduled to be announced at the summit. President Obama plans to announce a national public-private partnership to help retrain workers for jobs that are in demand. The national program is in response to frustrations that have been expressed both by workers and by employers who complain that public-retraining programs frequently do not provide students with employable skills. The new program is intended to help better align community-college curricula with the needs of local companies.

The Aspen Institute, a Washington-based not-for-profit, private research organization, will run the partnership, named Skills for America's Future. The president will also announce the creation of a government task force that will include representatives from the Department of Labor, the Department of Commerce and other federal agencies. The task force will ensure that federal efforts are coordinated and facilitate the private sector's access to federal training and education programs.

Melinda Gates, who is attending the summit, will announce that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will spend $35-million over five years to help increase the graduation rates of community-college students. The Completion by Design program will award competitive grants to groups of community colleges, which will then use the money to devise and enact new approaches to making the colleges more accessible to students, especially those from low-income families.
Community Colleges are filled with great teachers, fine administrations and students of a very high quality. Watch the summit here, I embded the videos for the full summit below:

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