A new national panel aims to address the growing economic and racial divide between two- and four-year colleges. The uneconomically named Task Force on Preventing Community Colleges from Becoming Separate and Unequal, convened by the Century Foundation and funded by the Ford Foundation, seeks to strengthen community colleges so that they do not become a refuge for low-income and academically underprepared students alone, because doing so will be their undoing, say the panel's leaders. “While two-year institutions must always provide access to low-income and working-class students, community colleges need to find ways to recruit middle-class students as well, or the political and financial support for the two-year sector will continue to decline,” Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College and a co-chair of the panel, said in a news release. The other co-chair of the panel, which will hold its first meeting on Feb. 17, is Anthony Marx, president of the New York Public Library and former president of Amherst College. A list of the panel's members can be found here.
Submitted by Paul Fain on January 26, 2012 - 3:00am
A lawyer told Michigan lawmakers Wednesday that a proposed bill to pave the way for community colleges to offer four-year degrees might violate the state's constitution. The Grand Rapids Pressreports that lawmakers were surprised by the testimony of Leonard Wolfe, in which he said two-year colleges would need to become universities for a legal conversion, which would mean collecting no more property tax revenue. Supporters of the bill have said it would create more affordable degree paths for students in certain programs.
Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick is proposing a centralization of community colleges in Massachusetts. His plan would give the state's Board of Higher Education authority over all funds for all community colleges, consolidating the 15 line items for the colleges in the budget today. Further, Patrick said that the board would focus on job preparation. “A central piece of our economic recovery strategy is ensuring that the skills of our workforce meet the evolving needs of our employers,” said Governor Patrick in a statement. “That’s why we are advancing a new and innovative mission for our community colleges, to train highly-qualified candidates for jobs in every corner of the commonwealth."
The Los Angeles Times continues to uncover problems in the management of building projects by the Los Angeles Community College District. The latest discovery: The company hired by the district to oversee $450 million in spending on the campus of Mission College took consulting fees from one of the contractors whose work it was supposed to be monitoring. While it was taking the consulting fees, the company signed off on payments to the contractor -- over the objections of architects and engineers who believed the billing was excessive.
Submitted by Paul Fain on January 20, 2012 - 3:00am
Lt. Governor Sheila Simon of Illinois on Thursday announced a proposed reform package aimed at improving the 20 percent graduation rate for the state's community colleges. In a speech and accompanying report, Simon, who is the governor's point person on education, made the case for performance-based funding and the creation of publicly available report cards that would evaluate each college's progress toward completion goals. And in order to ease the remedial math pressure on two-year colleges, she recommended that public high school students be required to take four years of math to graduate.
The American Association of University Professors last week sent a letter to the City University of New York chancellor and board chair, citing concerns about the “Pathways to Degree Completion Initiative,” a move by CUNY to enable smoother transfer for its community college students to CUNY's four-year institutions. The initiative was approved by CUNY’s Board of Trustees in June 2011. In the letter, the AAUP said that faculty members had complained about the new framework for the transfer of credits between CUNY’s 19 undergraduate colleges and the way these changes were adopted by “an administration-appointed Task Force and its associated committees,” bypassing elected faculty bodies. The faculty members have also complained about the soundness of the initiative itself and the consequences for academic freedom. (Some faculty members at community colleges have backed the changes, saying that they were necessary to help their students.)
Jay Hershenson, senior vice chancellor for university relations at CUNY, said the process had been a struggle, but that the initiative would raise quality and increase accountability. “CUNY’s Board of Trustees unanimously adopted the Pathways Initiative after extensive consultation, hearings, and meetings. Hundreds of faculty have participated in the curricula development process and CUNY’s elected student leadership hailed the reforms as long overdue,” he said.