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With a lofty nest on 24-hour video watch, the Georgia campus landed a worldwide audience. Such an opportunity, officials knew, is not to be wasted.
When someone says, “I want to go to college,” a traditional four-year college or university often comes to mind.
Many don’t think of community colleges as an option, even though they are the single largest sector of the U.S. higher education system, enrolling nearly half of all undergraduates each year.
Community colleges provide opportunity and access to millions of students, helping them prepare for a degree at a four-year institution, obtain an associate’s degree, or retrain and retool for the 21st century global economy.
On March 18, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan met with student leaders from the American Student Association of Community Colleges to discuss the importance of community colleges. The student leaders were in Wastington for their annual national Student Advocacy Conference.
The conversation focused on ensuring high-quality instruction, accrediting certification and degree programs, and improving support for community college transition programs.
“I was not confident that I could succeed at a four-year university, so I went with Victor Valley Community College. While I was there I stumbled upon this program for first-generation students, [the] Puente program,” said Amanda, one of the students at the discussion. “A lot of these opportunities that change our lives happen by chance.”
Puente is designed to assist first-generation students with navigating the college process. It’s just one of the many programs offered at community colleges across the country that help students who are looking to succeed in higher education.
Secretary Duncan also heard from other students who have benefited from the community college experience.
Sandeep Singh, a psychology major at Sacramento City College, told Duncan that he initially struggled when making the transition from high school to higher education, since the system was so different from the one in his native Fiji.
Amanda Steele, a student at Volunteer State Community College, said she has benefited from a veteran outreach program, which has made her transition from the U.S. Navy to civilian life easier.
The Secretary asked, “All of you represent thousands of students, what are the recurring issues you hear about from your constituencies?”
The students in attendance responded by saying that graduate requirements tend not to align with the transfer process within schools, out of state transfers are even more complex and enrollment issues and lack of classes always seem to push back transfer deadlines.
Mark Mitsui, Deputy Assistant Secretary for community colleges at the Department of Education closed the meeting by saying, “These systematic issues show that the community college systems that we need to, now more than ever, work with students on campus to create locally driven solutions aided by a national dialogue.”
This discussion is part of the ongoing Student Voices Series, where students engage with the Secretary of Education and senior staff to solicit and help develop recommendations on current programs and future policies.
Sam Ryan is special assistant and youth liaison at the U.S. Department of Education
The Innovation Corps, or I-Corps, has spread to more than 100 universities since it was created three years ago.
The measure aims to curb students’ costs, but faculty members worry that it could force them to teach outdated information.
The papers are intended to stimulate a discussion about the cost of higher education, student-loan repayment, and institutional, state, and federal partnerships.
The organizations clarify what they mean by "probation," "warning," and other language describing an institution’s accreditation status.
The measure would provide a legal framework for arrangements in which students seek money from investors and agree to repay a percentage of their future earnings.
Kim A. Wilcox, chancellor of the University of California at Riverside, talked to The Chronicle about what works for improving student success.
Valley City State University is the first of four North Dakota University System institutions approved to participate in the Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA).
The National STEM Consortium, an alliance of 10 community colleges, has developed training programs that other campuses can adapt to fit local needs.
The people standing in the way of organizing adjuncts may be fellow faculty members, several conference speakers say.
President Obama stopped by Bladensburg High School in Maryland on Monday to announce the winners of the inaugural Youth CareerConnect program. The school, along with two other high schools in Prince George’s County, is being awarded $7 million as part of the program. Overall, 24 Youth CareerConnect awards across the country will provide $107 million to high schools and their partners as they redesign the teaching and learning experience for students to more fully prepare them for a successful future.
The program, administered by the U.S. Department of Labor in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education, will help prepare 2,500 graduates at Bladensburg and other schools to succeed academically and graduate career-ready in high-demand fields such as information technology and health care.
“I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy,” Obama said during his 2013 State of the Union address. “We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math – the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future.”
The Youth CareerConnect program encourages America’s school districts, institutions of higher education, the workforce investment system, and their partners to scale up evidence-based high school models that will transform the high school experience for America’s youth. Participating schools will strengthen America’s talent pipeline through:
- Integrated Academic and Career-Focused Learning
- Work-Based Learning and Exposure to the World of Work
- Robust Employer Engagement
- Individualized Career and Academic Counseling
- Integration of Post-secondary Education and Training
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan recently met with a school community in Massachusetts that shares the same approach as the Youth CareerConnect program. Worchester Technical High School, which earned the U.S. Education Department’s recognition as a Blue Ribbon School in 2013 thanks to students’ high performance, meaningfully engages students in relevant experiences that provide a link to future college and career pathways. The school went from being one of the worst in the district to one of the best in the nation with a 95 percent graduation rate and a 1.3 percent dropout rate.
During his visit, Duncan participated in a town hall discussion on career and technical education with high school teachers, community college officials and business leaders. The school’s strong leadership and willingness to embrace the community left an unforgettable impression on Duncan.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a school that is more open, whether it’s higher ed partnerships, whether it’s business partnerships, whether it’s literally inviting the community into your school every single day … this school is an extraordinary community asset,” he told the audience.
Today’s announcement of the Youth Career Connect program recognizes that many local districts and school leaders, as well as many of their national and local workforce partners, have been working together to provide these workplace relevant opportunities for students for quite some time, and it builds off of the collective experiences of these local partnerships. Ultimately, this program complements additional proposals in the President’s 2015 budget, and supports the President’s broader agenda to strengthen education to more effectively prepare young people for college and careers.
Brenda Dann-Messier is the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Vocational and Adult Education.
On April 1st President Obama announced April as National Financial Capability Month with a focus on ensuring all Americans have the tools they need to navigate the financial world and gain economic freedom. In today’s economy, financial capability is essential for managing through some of life’s biggest transitions, including paying for college. A solid understanding of money management basics makes it easier to avoid scams, spot misleading information, and make sound financial decisions on financing your education and avoiding unmanageable debt when you graduate.
The first step in paying for college is to complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at www.fafsa.gov. Federal Student Aid has over $150 billion in financial aid available for college and it all starts with the FAFSA. The FAFSA is FREE, so you should never have to pay to have someone submit it for you. In addition, many states also have state aid available to help finance your education. You’ll want to make sure to complete your FAFSA by the priority deadline for your state to be eligible for those additional funds. You should also spend time looking for scholarships. Many are based on your interests, community service, organization affiliations, etc. and not just your grades. StudentAid.gov has lots of great information and resources on planning and paying for college including how to search for scholarships.
Once you’ve completed your FAFSA, you won’t get a check in the mail from the government. There’s a little more to it than that. Once you’ve been accepted to the school of your choice, they will send you a financial aid award letter listing all the financial aid you are eligible for. The timing of the aid offer varies from school to school, and you could receive an aid offer as early as spring (awarding for the fall). You’ll want to be an informed consumer and make sure to closely review your aid offer. You can also compare offers from different schools to see which might be best for you. And you don’t have to accept everything that’s offered. The rule is free money first (scholarships and grants), then earned money (work-study), and then borrowed money (federal student loans). Check out this handy chart that illustrates the order in which you should accept financial aid.
If you do have to take out student loans make sure to borrow only what you need and try and limit borrowing to federal student loans. Federal student loans typically have lower interest rates and more flexibility when it comes time to pay them back. Federal Student Aid also has a Repayment Estimator which can help you get an idea of what your monthly student loan payment may be when you graduate. This tool will help you see what impact the loans you are about to get can have on your future finances. Don’t wait until you’re ready to graduate to find out what those student loan payments might be and wonder if you can afford them!
Education is an important step in getting a good paying job and can lay the foundation for your financial future. Plan ahead and make smart decisions about how you finance it.
Susan Thares is the digital engagement lead at the Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid
Postgame comments by a basketball star at the University of Connecticut highlighted controversies and challenges that are tearing at the NCAA’s amateurism model.
The fourth quarter of the school year is generally a time of preparation for schools and districts as they finalize next year’s budget, student and teacher schedules, and professional development for the upcoming school year. During this time of preparation, it is important that schools and districts discuss ways that they can support parents and the community in helping students to achieve success.
To help in this work, the U.S. Department of Education is proud to release a framework for schools and the broader communities they serve to build parent and community engagement. Across the country, less than a quarter of residents are 18 years old or younger, and all of us have a responsibility for helping our schools succeed. The Dual Capacity framework, a process used to teach school and district staff to effectively engage parents and for parents to work successfully with the schools to increase student achievement, provides a model that schools and districts can use to build the type of effective community engagement that will make schools the center of our communities.
An example of how the elements of the framework can lead to improved engagement is exhibited in my hometown of Baltimore. Baltimore City Public Schools worked to support 12,000 pre-kindergarten and kindergarten homes, and to engage families in home-based literacy practices. Each week students received a different bag filled with award-winning children’s books, exposing children, on average, to more than 100 books per year. The book rotation also includes parent training and information on how to share books effectively to promote children’s early literacy skills and nurture a love of learning. Through the program, families are also connected with their local public and school libraries. At the culmination of the program, children receive a permanent bag to keep and continue the practice of borrowing books and building a lifelong habit of reading.
For more information on the Dual Capacity Framework, as well as an introductory video from Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, please take some time and review our website at www.ed.gov/family-and-community-engagement. In the coming months, we will provided additional resources and information, so that schools, districts, communities, and parents can learn more about family and community engagement, as well as, share the wonderful work they are doing to build parent, school, and community capacity that supports all students.
Jonathan Brice is deputy assistant secretary in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education
North Dakota has been approved by the Midwestern Higher Education Compact (MHEC) as the second state to join the Midwestern State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (M-SARA).
Women make up half of the U.S. workforce and yet often, they are paid less than men for doing the same job. Today, April 8, marks an important day for highlighting these unfair disparities: National Equal Pay Day.
Our nation has made great progress in expanding economic and educational opportunities for women, but business, industry, labor, and government at all levels still have so much work to do to ensure that every American, regardless of their gender, is treated fairly and gets equal pay for equal work.
From the first day he took office, President Obama has been a staunch advocate for fair treatment in the workplace and equal pay. The first piece of legislation the President signed was the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, making it easier for women to challenge their employers in court if they weren’t paid the same salary as men doing the same job. Shortly afterwards, the President created the National Equal Pay Task Force to crackdown on violations of equal pay laws. He called on various agencies to help support this work, from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to the Department of Justice.
The Department of Education has joined this effort with our federal partners to ensure that the programs and grants we are responsible for can better support women, and narrow or eliminate gender opportunity gaps in education. At ED, we are improving support for women and girls in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We are creating pathways to good jobs and careers through high-quality career and technical education (CTE). We are making higher education more affordable, and expanding pathways to postsecondary education for adult learners, workers looking to retrain for new careers, and young people seeking careers that require technical education.
In adult education, recent data has shown that there are gender disparities in skill levels for literacy, numeracy, and problem solving. The new data and evidence of disparities prompted the Department to hold a series of roundtables and engage various equity organizations who work directly with young girls and women. We explored promising models of how to better align local, state, and federal resources when addressing skill issues. And in coming months, ED will be releasing a National Action Plan to help guide our work with respect to low-skilled adults, especially as it relates to gaps in gender equity.
One of the most important—and often overlooked—tools for narrowing gender pay gaps in the United States is Title IX, signed into law in 1972. Title IX bars educational institutions from discriminating against a person on the basis of their sex in any educational program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.
Title IX proved to be one of the great unsung success stories in education. It is best known as the law that required equal access to athletics for male and female students in secondary schools and colleges. But ultimately, Title IX dramatically increased employment for women by increasing access not just to athletics but to college itself and subsequent job opportunities.
Just as the benefit of athletics stretched far beyond the playing field for men, Title IX proved that the same benefits held true in the case of women and girls. Women athletes are more likely to graduate from college than female students who don’t play sports. They are less likely to use drugs, get pregnant as teenagers, or become obese.
In fact, one rigorous study by Betsey Stevenson—now a member of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers—found that up to 40 percent of the overall rise in employment among women in the 25 to 34-year old age group since 1972 was attributable to Title IX. Girls and women who benefitted from Title IX had wages that were eight percent higher than their peers–and also were more likely to work in high-skill, previously male-dominated occupations.
As the President has said, equal pay is not just a women’s issue but a family issue. When the number of women in the workforce expands rapidly, their role as breadwinners expands rapidly too. And when women aren’t paid and treated fairly, their families suffer.
That’s one reason President Obama’s groundbreaking 2013 Preschool for All proposal is so important. It would enable states to provide an additional one million four-year-olds with high-quality preschool.
The benefits of high-quality early learning for young children are clear—and their mothers and families benefit as well. Child care expenses for families with working mothers range from 20 percent to nearly 50 percent of a working mom’s salary. Sadly, that steep price tag leads too many mothers to put off pursuing their own educational and career goals.
Our task is to make sure we are always working to narrow and eliminate unfair opportunity gaps. On June 23, President Obama is convening the first-ever White House Working Families Summit.
In the months beforehand, the Administration will build on the momentum of Equal Pay Day, and engage business leaders, advocates, policymakers, and educators to explore how we can better address issues affecting all working families—especially those pertaining to equity for women.
On equal pay, it’s time not just to talk the talk but to walk the walk. As a nation, we’re on that journey now. But we still have a long way to go to meet the gender-blind American ideal of equal opportunity and equal pay for equal work.
Arne Duncan is the U.S. Secretary of Education
Turf battles are among many factors that hinder the Office of Research Integrity’s mission, says David E. Wright, who stepped down as ORI’s director last month.