Thursday, June 18, 2009

White House to Make 'Major Announcement' on Community Colleges

June 18, 2009—Yesterday, during the Democratic Leadership Conference policy forum, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel announced that in the coming weeks President Obama will make a major announcement on community colleges. Mr. Emanuel said that there will be a "rewriting of all legislation related to job training and vocational education, but most importantly in the area of community colleges." He said that "a lot of people, when we talk about education, talk about universities. What has been forgotten is how important the community-college system is to our economy, our ability to compete in a global economy. It is literally the conveyor belt to allow people to upgrade their skills when they are going from X job to Y career.

"As a former member of Congress who had two community colleges in his district," said Mr. Emanuel, "I cannot tell you how important this is. It has not gotten the attention of the four-year institutions, but as a competitive advantage to the U.S., the community-college system is essential. We're going to be outlining a system that is going to fund the growth of the community-college system."Mr. Emanuel commented on the importance of community colleges, including referencing his experience as a member of Congress and the two community colleges in his former district.

Mr. Emanuel noted that the President's announcement will outline "changes on what we can do for community colleges so we can achieve the goal of getting five million more children, five million more workers through the community college system than are expected over the next ten years." He also stated that the community colleges system "will be having major resource infusion, but also reforms and [the system will be] goals-driven as part of an overall economic strategy in the upgrading of American worker/employee skills..."

He said the focus on community colleges is "part of an upgrading of the economic strategy and the upgrading of American workers' skills."The reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act is on the horizon and would serve as a likely vehicle for these changes. ACCT's LAW E-Alerts and Inside the Beltway blog ( will keep you informed of all developments related to President Obama's announcement as they happen. The audio of his speech can be found here:

In Congressional news, The House Republican Steering Committee selected Rep. John Kline (R-MN) to serve as the new Ranking Member on the House Education and Labor Committee.

The Education and Labor Committee will have the major task of dealing with the budget reconciliation, which allows for moving of the Pell Grant program to a mandatory program and merging of the Direct Lending program and Federal Family Education Loan program into a single program. Additionally, the committee will have to consider the reauthorization of the Workforce Investment Act and the No Child Left Behind Act (Elementary and Secondary Education Act).

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