Friday, May 1, 2009

Education Secretary Arne Duncan Calls Community Colleges "Critical"

Speaking to the Chronicle of Higher Education, Education Secretary Arne Duncan spoke extensively about the important role of community colleges in meeting the Obama Administration's goals to make the United States a top producer of highly educated students.

“Lots of people just assume we already have the highest percent” of college graduates in the world, Duncan said. “I think the public doesn’t understand the extent to which other countries have passed us by.”

He says that “Community colleges have been an undervalued resource."

“We’ve made a major play in that area…there’s a chance to have many more people graduate.”

The Chronicle article goes on to say that:
The secretary said he chose a community-college chancellor—Martha J. Kanter, of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District—as his under secretary “to send a signal of how critical community colleges are.”

“I didn’t do that by accident,” he said. “That was strategic.”

Describing meeting with community-college presidents in Iowa and Florida who have adapted their course offerings to meet employers’ changing needs, Mr. Duncan said community colleges needed to remain “on the cutting edge” of work-force trends. A college in Iowa, he said, has started to help build parts for windmills, and an institution in Miami has created programs to train people for jobs in the fashion industry there.

“Community colleges have to be nimble,” he said.

Duncan also discussed the importance of college completion, keeping tuition rates as low as possible, and enforcing accountability measures. Read the full article.

Duncan was a featured keynote speaker at the 2009 Community College National Legislative Summit in February.

ACCT, in collaboration with AACC, is spearheading the development of appropriate accountability measures for community colleges, taking into account variable roles that community colleges serve, which is not always the completion of a two-year degree for all students. ACCT will provide further information as it becomes available.

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