Not directly connected to the show, but interesting news for the community colleges out there:
ACOMMUNITY COLLEGE is the setting for a sitcom on NBC, but the health and improvement of the nation’s community colleges is no joke.
In fact, if President Obama has his way, community colleges will be an engine of the economic recovery.
It looks as if millions of students already have the same idea: About 40 percent of 18-24 year olds – a record – are in college, says a new study by the Pew Research Center. Recent gains are attributed to a surge in enrollment at community colleges. (Community College of Philadelphia’s 36,000 students represents a 10.5 percent increase over last year.)
The White House says that, in the future, there will be twice as many jobs requiring an associate degree than those that require no college. Another study, by the Democratic Leadership Council, says that that jobs for people with associate degrees – in computers, health care and “green” jobs – will grow even faster than jobs for people with bachelor’s degrees.
So President Obama’s call for a $12 billion investment in community colleges, the American Graduation Initiative, is a critical component in bringing down spiking unemployment, and in developing jobs that will be relevant in the future.
Obama has set a goal of adding five million community-college graduates in the next 10 years, with the emphasis on graduation, not just enrollment. In general, community colleges have a much lower graduation rate than four-year colleges.
His plan includes $7 billion in competitive grants, which would be used to fund innovative programs to boost graduation rates, like partnerships with businesses, dual programs with high schools, even personalized help for students.
The plan also includes $2.5 billion in seed money to leverage $10 billion in funds to build new facilities, and it would provide federal help to increase the use of the Internet in education by developing an online skills laboratory.
A version of the initiative passed the U.S. House in September as part of an overhaul of government funding of education. But the House version provides only $10 billion of the $12 billion for which Obama has asked.
When the bill is introduced in the Senate, we urge senators Specter and Casey to fight for full funding. Improving community colleges is, you should pardon the expression, a “no-brainer.”