Submitted by Paul Fain on December 9, 2013 - 3:00am
The White House on Friday postponed a meeting with an estimated 140 college leaders that had been scheduled for this week, according to notices administration officials distributed to invited participants. The event was slated to be a discussion of strategies to better serve lower-income students. In order to get in the door the group of college presidents, state and local government officials and other invitees were asked to set a specific goal for improvement in areas such as remediation or enrollment numbers of Pell Grant recipients.
The meeting was bumped, however, because of a trip President Obama and Michelle Obama are taking to South Africa this week to attend a memorial for Nelson Mandela. In emails to invitees, White House officials said they remained "100 percent" committed to holding the meeting on higher education, probably in January. In the meantime they encouraged participants to continue to work with the administration to further develop their student-success pledges.
Submitted by Paul Fain on December 5, 2013 - 3:00am
The Lumina Foundation on Wednesday announced the first 20 cities that it will team with on localized college completion strategies. In January Lumina announced a shift in its approach, with a plan to spend $300 million over the next four years on rethinking financial aid, new delivery models of higher education and mobilizing key constituencies to boost completion rates. The foundation also said it would team up with cities, with this group being the first batch. Each local area will receive up to $200,000 from Lumina, and foundation officials said more cities would be selected to participate in the next year.
Education Department staff members have recommended that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges -- which evaluates community colleges in California -- be permitted to operate for another year, while it works on fixing problems that the department has identified. The recommendation may be accepted or rejected next week at a meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity, which advises the education secretary on which accreditors to recognize. (Such recognition is crucial as students are eligible for federal student aid only if they enroll at institutions accredited by recognized accreditors.) The department notified the accreditor in August that it was out of compliance with many rules -- and that action cheered advocates for the City College of San Francisco. In July, the accreditor said that it would strip the college of its accreditation -- a decision that has led to intense scrutiny of the accreditor's review, which has been blasted by faculty unions and others as seriously flawed.
The Education Department's staff report says that there has been enough progress at fixing problems at the accreditation agency to give it another 12 months to improve, but it outlines areas of continued lack of compliance as well. Many of the remaining issues are broad and serious. Among them: "the agency must demonstrate wide acceptance of the agency's standards, policies, procedures, and decisions to grant or deny accreditation by educators" and "the agency must demonstrate that academic personnel, as generally defined by the accrediting agency and wider higher education community, are represented on its evaluation teams" and "the agency must demonstrate that it evaluates the appropriateness of the measures of student achievement chosen by its institutions." While these issues extend beyond the controversy over the City College of San Francisco, they relate to criticisms made of the accreditor's handling of that case.
Submitted by Paul Fain on December 3, 2013 - 3:00am
Local work force development organizations face numerous challenges as they seek to help employers fill some jobs that require skilled labor, according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO). Job seekers often do not have the money, transportation or child care options to be able to pursue suggested training, the report found. And many lack the basic skills needed to participate in training programs.
The report found that in 80 percent of local areas, employers had difficulty filling "middle skilled" jobs (such as welders, truck drivers or machinists) because the positions require more than a high school diploma but less than a four-year degree. Workers often lack the support to get that training, according to the GAO. To help deal with this problem the U.S. Department of Labor recommends the use of a "career pathways" approach, which combines job training with basic skills education and support services. But little is known about how broadly that approach is being used, the report said.
Submitted by Paul Fain on November 20, 2013 - 3:00am
California Competes, a nonprofit group, has unveiled an online, interactive data tool that charts community college enrollment and degree production rates across California's 1,700 ZIP codes. The group's director, Robert Shireman, a former official with the U.S. Department of Education, said during a phone call with reporters that the map helps identify areas where higher education needs aren't being met. For example, he said Los Angeles would need to add the equivalent of four Santa Monica Colleges if its community college-going rates were as high as Orange County's.
Submitted by Paul Fain on November 14, 2013 - 3:00am
Google on Wednesday announced a $3.2 million grant that four organizations will share to produce data-based research on how student veterans are faring in college. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Student Veterans of America, Posse Foundation and Veterans of Foreign Wars will study which colleges are the most successful at supporting student veterans, which campus programs have the biggest impact and how veterans' majors of study match up with employment opportunities. The resulting report will be made public, Google officials said, and the company will fund the expansion of programs that are found to be the most effective.
Submitted by Paul Fain on November 13, 2013 - 3:00am
California's Foothill-De Anza and Butte-Glenn community college districts have received $17 million from the state to develop a "one stop" online education portal, the colleges announced. The project will provide funding and support for all of California's 112 community colleges to offer courses through the statewide portal, which will feature a common course management system and student supports. Faculty members will play a leadership role in the work, college officials said.
Submitted by Paul Fain on November 11, 2013 - 3:00am
At an event last week, two Bay Area members of the U.S. House of Representatives were aggressively critical of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges for its treatment of City College of San Francisco, the San Francisco Chroniclereported. Reps. Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo, both Democrats, said they hope the three lawsuits filed by supporters of City College will prevent the college from losing its accreditation next year.