Community College News

Stay abreast of all the news and reports impacting community colleges. This section covers the latest news stories, from campus protests to Wal-Mart partnerships. Read community college reactions to the latest State of the Union address, identify schools receiving big donations, and analyze the latest laws impacting community colleges and their students.
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The Obama Administration has placed a heavy focus on community colleges and college completion rates over the past three years, raising awareness about the importance of education in improving the country’s unemployment rate. However, some have criticized the President for placing too much emphasis on education and not enough on actual job development. To that end, in addition to the Skills for America's Future program initiated in 2011, the President and Education Secretary Arne Duncan recently unveiled their latest plan aimed at transforming vocational education nationwide.
 
Making a Solid Investment
 
The latest initiative by the White House is titled, “Investing in America’s Future: A Blueprint for Transforming Career and Technical Education.” The program was designed as an outline for revamping the current Perkins Act of 2006, which was originally created to provide funding for vocational training at the secondary and postsecondary level. According to the U.S. Department of Education website, the Perkins Act primarily distributes funding through state grants, which State Boards for Vocational Education are encouraged and eligible to apply.
 
While the Perkins Act has been significant in developing vocational training across America, the current administration believes it could go farther in helping Americans train for the industries that have the highest need for skilled workers today. At a time when unemployment rates are still high, a restructuring of the Perkins Act could make vocational training more widely available both to displaced workers and high school graduates that cannot afford the hefty tuition rates at . . . read more

The annual President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll is out for 2012, and a number of community colleges made the list this year. This honor roll was originally created to highlight institutions of higher education that make significant contributions to their communities through the efforts of students and staff. The schools that made the grade have proven track records for giving back to the areas where they are located.

About the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll
 
The website for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) explains that the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll was first launched in 2006 to showcase the “role colleges and universities play in solving community problems” and to get more students started on a “lifelong path of civic engagement.” Originally inspired by the service of college students nationwide after Hurricane Katrina, the honor roll strives to recognize schools that “achieve meaningful, measurable outcomes in the communities they serve.”
 
The honor roll is a collaboration between the CNCS, the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Contact, and the American Council on Education. Finalists are chosen through a series of criteria that include scope and innovation of service projects, the incorporation of service-learning into course curriculum, the commitment of the institution to long-term partnerships with community organizations and the measurable community outcomes as a result of the service projects.
 
This year's honor roll was announced at the American Council on Education’s annual meeting on March 12, 2012, in . . . read more

College students have been traditionally known for their willingness to exercise their First Amendment rights,and today’s student is no exception. In fact, college students have been voicing their opinions on everything from community college reorganization to tuition hikes, with protests from coast to coast. Check out two of the issues on either side of the country that currently have many community college student up-in-arms.

California Students Protest Tuition Hikes, Education Cuts
 
On the west coast, college students have come out in droves to protest deep state budget cuts that have resulted in higher tuition rates and cuts to classes and student services. The UC Berkeley News Center reports that an estimated 8,000 students flocked to Sacramento earlier this month to stage a mass demonstration on the steps of the state capitol. The crowd included students, faculty and administrative staff from the state’s universities and community colleges.
 
“Students, faculty, staff, administrators – we are all on the same side in wanting to maintain a strong university, and there was real consensus among the deans that taking the bus to Sacramento today would be a good thing to do,” Kim Voss, acting dean of social sciences at Berkeley, told the UC Berkeley News Center. The news service reported that more than 50 students and staff traveled from the college to Sacramento to support the protest movement.
 
A campus-wide email was sent out at the school, encouraging those who could to head to Sacramento to make their voices heard. The email . . . read more

Students interested in pursuing higher education are often counseled to look for a college or university that is accredited. However, for many community colleges in California, accreditation cannot be taken for granted. Many two-year schools around the state are at risk of losing their accreditation.  They must show good reason why their accreditation should remain intact, or lose it altogether. Why is accreditation important and what do colleges have to do keep it? Many California schools are learning the answers to those questions firsthand.

The Importance of Accreditation
 
According to the website for the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, accreditation is a “voluntary activity initiated by the institution” that “emphasizes quality assurance and a commitment to continuous quality enhancement.” Accreditation can be important to an institution because it plays a factor in the following:
 
       ·         Determining whether the school meets minimum quality standards
       ·         Providing potential students with important information about a school
       ·         Assisting in the determination of credit transfers between schools
       ·         Showing prospective employers the value of the education received at the school
       ·         Evaluating eligibility for tuition reimbursement programs offered by employers
       ·         Enabling graduates to sit for certification examinations
       ·         Creating goals for self-improvement of the institution
       ·         Providing self-assessment for the oversight functions required by the state
       ·         Offering a basis for determining federal student assistance
 
In many of these factors, accreditation makes all the difference in the quality of the degree a student earns and where he can take his studies after graduation. Accreditation is typically judged . . . read more

While community colleges appreciated the shout-out they received during President Obama’s recent State of the Union address, most say that to accomplish what the president is proposing will take more resources than they currently have. Even the schools that currently have programs in place similar to those the President proposed said they could do much more if they had more – from state and federal governments. While it remains to be seen whether additional funding will come, the first step – raising awareness for the important role community colleges play in today’s employment scene – was accomplished through the President’s speech.

What the President Said
 
According to a report in the Chronicle of Higher Education, President Obama focused on the plight facing many hard-working Americans who are unable to “enjoy the American Dream” the way previous generations have. The Presidents referred to the problem as “the defining issue of our time,” and stated in his speech, “We shouldn’t settle for a country where a shrinking number of people do really well while a growing number of Americans barely get by.” The president called for “an economy where everyone gets a fair shot and everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules.”
 
To that end, the President touted community colleges as one of the key players in putting America back to work. Obama stated in his address that community colleges were at the forefront of worker training programs across the country, and called . . . read more
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