Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Outlook for the 112th Congress:
Congress will return this month to determine the Congressional leadership for the upcoming year. The week after Thanksgiving, the Democratic and Republican caucuses will determine the committee chairs, with the committee rosters following shortly thereafter.
Outlook for the 112th Senate:
The Senate in 2011 will have 53 Democrats (including 2 Independents who caucus with Democrats) and 47 Republicans (including one uncalled race, but the two front runners are Republicans). Senate leadership is not expected to change, with Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) retaining their posts. Additionally, the committee chairman will largely be unaffected, as Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) will remain as Chair of the Appropriations Committee, and Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) will remain as Chair of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Outlook for the 112th House of Representatives:
On the House side, the election brought about significant change, as the Republican party gained control of the House for the 112th Congress. The current election results are 239 Republicans and 188 Democrats, with 8 uncalled elections. Current Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) is expected to become the Speaker of the House, and current Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) is expected to be the Majority Leader. Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), a former trustee from Kern Community College District, announced that he will seek the Majority Whip position. Current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has announced that she will run for Minority Leader. The current Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) are running against each other for the Minority Whip position.
On the committee front, Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA) and Rep. Harold Rogers (R-KY) have announced their candidacy for the position of Chair of the Appropriations Committee. Rep. John Kline (R-MN) has forwarded his name to be Chair of the Education and Labor Committee. Read more!
Thursday, September 30, 2010
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
This week, the Senate and House leaders are working to finalize a continuing resolution quickly in order to adjourn Congress until early December. The continuing resolution would fund the federal government at the FY2010 levels for most programs, but the overall funding level would be $9 billion than was allocated in FY2010. Currently, there is some discussion by Senate Republicans to delay the continuing resolution until sometime in February 2011, but congressional leaders are working to resolve the continuing resolution as soon as possible. It is unclear which date will be chosen. Congress was supposed to wrap up during the week of October 4, but there is major effort to end the session as soon as possible. As for the tax-extenders bill, it appears that with the shortened congressional schedule, Congress is putting off debate on the bill until after the election.
The White House recently released a media advisory for the White House Summit on Community Colleges, to be held on October 5, 2010. The event will begin at 12:15 p.m. and will likely end around 4 p.m. Eastern time. The opening plenary session and closing session of the Summit will be streamed LIVE on www.WhiteHouse.gov/live. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, a former trustee at Rio Hondo Community College in California, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former student at Canton Junior College in Illinois (now Spoon River Community College), recently wrote about community colleges from their personal perspectives on the summit’s official website. ACCT encourages you to visit the summit website for more information. Please forward this information to your fellow trustees, presidents, and college communities to encourage participation in Tuesday's historic White House Summit on Community Colleges.Read more!
Friday, July 2, 2010
During House consideration, the White House threatened to veto the bill because $800 million in education-related rescissions were included to offset additional funding within the bill. The White House veto threat and additional Senate action raises concerns about whether the House provisions will be passed by the Senate. There is an expectation that the education rescissions will be removed during Senate consideration. The House also passed a budget resolution, but this resolution only applies to the House.
In other news, President Barack Obama called on Congress yesterday to pass comprehensive immigration reform legislation. In his speech, President Obama renewed his support for the DREAM Act. ACCT, with the Act on the DREAM Coalition, is encouraging to Congress to start the process and pass DREAM this session of Congress.
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Recently, House Republican leaders announced that they would oppose any additional dollars beyond funds for war and disasters, even if the funding is offset by other funds. This adds an additional hurdle as Congressional leaders work to finalize a bill that has been pending for a number of weeks. Meanwhile, funding for education jobs is now down to $10 billion from $23 billion. The funding appears to be offset, but the offset will not come from ARRA unspent funds. The status of the Pell Grant shortfall funds is unclear, but the overall sense is that these funds may be in jeopardy due to the desire to limit funding to war and disasters.
The Congressional district work period/recess for July 4th is rapidly approaching, and there is a strong desire to finalize action on these two bills before the recess. It is unclear what actions will be made to advance these two important bills.
Today, the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions held a hearing entitled “Emerging Risk? An Overview of the Federal Investment in For-Profit Education.” The committee will hold additional hearings to examine the for-profit sector due to the disproportionate share of federal financial aid and the rise in student loan default rates.
Click here to read the committee's report on the for-profit sector.
Click here to view the hearing. Read more!
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Also, Chairman Harkin held a hearing to discuss the administration’s education budget and the Education Jobs bill with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan testifying. Another panel of witnesses, including Mark Herzog, Chancellor of the Connecticut Community Colleges, testified before the subcommittee. All of the witnesses voiced their strong support for the education jobs bill. With the downturn in the economy and impending budget cliffs, these funds would stave off huge budget deficits and layoffs. ACCT sent a letter of support of Chairman Harkin’s bill.
The bill’s funding level mirrors the House-passed “Jobs for Main Street Act,” which was passed in December of last year. Last month, House Education and Labor Chairman George Miller (D-CA) introduced H.R. 4812, which includes funding for states and an additional $75 billion over two years for local government to retain workers, including school employees.
The hearing can be found at: http://appropriations.senate.gov/webcasts.cfm?method=webcasts.view&id=089d3b21-5bc6-4f18-89bf-b3fccb2b981b
ACCT’s letter of support can be found at: http://www.acct.org/advocacy/letters/
Friday, March 5, 2010
We need each trustee, president, and community college leader to voice support for the bill immediately. As part of the National Legislative Summit next week, hundreds of community college leaders will descend upon Washington and urge their Members of Congress to support SAFRA. But we need your immediate assistance to ensure that Senators know how important this legislation is for community colleges.
Community colleges are now part of the national discussion and now is our time to seize the moment and ACT on behalf of our students and institutions. SAFRA contains the largest federal investment aimed at community colleges. Please act NOW to ensure continued support of your intuition.
Under SAFRA, the Federal Family Education Loan Program would be eliminated and all new federal student loans would be Direct Loans. Most importantly, SAFRA contains the American Graduation Initiative (AGI), which provides almost $10 billion for community colleges. We need you to urge your Senators to keep AGI funding at $12 billion, the level requested by President Obama. If the Senate decides to accommodate the March 18th timeframe, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee will need to introduce and pass their version of SAFRA soon.
ACCT has prepared a draft letter for your use. The letter can be sent directly to your representatives through ACCT's Policy Center online at: http://www.congressweb.com/cweb4/index.cfm?orgcode=acct. Additionally, you should also make phone calls to your Senators in support of H.R. 3221. Senators may be reached utilizing the Capitol Switchboard, 202-224-3121.
ACCT's House-passed H.R. 3221 summary of community college-related items within the bill can be found at: http://www.acct.org/HR3221-Summary.pdf.
For more information, contact Jee Hang Lee at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 775-4450. Read more!
Friday, January 15, 2010
NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP)
NTIA’s NOFA allocates approximately $2.6 billion in this funding round of which approximately $2.35 billion will be made available for infrastructure projects. In this round, NTIA is adopting a “comprehensive communities” approach as its top priority in awarding infrastructure grants, focusing on middle mile broadband projects that connect key community anchor institutions – such as libraries, hospitals, community colleges, universities, and public safety institutions. Comprehensive Community Infrastructure projects maximize the benefits of BTOP by leveraging resources, promoting sustainable community growth, and ultimately laying the foundation for reasonably priced broadband service to consumers and businesses.
In addition, NTIA plans to award at least $150 million of the funding for Public Computer Center projects, which will expand access to broadband service and enhance broadband capacity at public libraries, community colleges, and other institutions that service the general public. NTIA also plans to award at least $100 million for Sustainable Broadband Adoption projects, which include projects to provide broadband education, training, and equipment, particularly to vulnerable population groups where broadband technology has traditionally been underutilized.
For more information, visit: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/frnotices/2010/FR_BTOPNOFA_100115.pdf
Or visit the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program website: http://www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandgrants/ Read more!
Thursday, October 1, 2009
ACCT continues to wait for the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee to release its version of the education reconciliation bill. HELP Committee staff have indicated that the bill should be available within the next two weeks. Most importantly for community colleges, the bill is expected to contain the American Graduation Initiative. Senate leaders are waiting for the health care legislative process to unfold before deciding when to carry out the education-reconciliation process.
In other news, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan penned an editorial, “Moving College into the 21st Century,” which the noted the importance of the American Graduation Initiative. The editorial can be viewed at: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0909/27762.html. Read more!
Monday, September 21, 2009
In other major news, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee is expected to release its version of the education reconciliation bill later this week. The HELP Committee will likely consider the bill next week. While the final details of the bill are unclear, the HELP Committee bill is expected to differ in a number of areas from the bill recently passed by the House, H.R. 3221. Most importantly for community colleges, the bill is expected to contain the American Graduation Initiative. Read more!
Friday, September 11, 2009
Here is the beginning of my post.
Jamie P. Merisotis, President and CEO, Lumina Foundation for Education
The next in ACCT's series of exclusive summer 2009 interviews is with Jamie P. Merisotis, President and CEO of Lumina Foundation for Education. Merisotis is a featured keynote speaker at ACCT's upcoming 40th Annual Community College Leadership Congress in San Francisco, California.
The following interview is an extended-length version of the Q&A printed in the summer 2009 issue of ACCT's magazine, Trustee Quarterly.
Jamie P. Merisotis leads Lumina Foundation for Education, one of the nation’s 45 largest private foundations and arguably one of the greatest advocates for community colleges. Under his leadership, Lumina employs a strategic, outcomes-based approach in pursuing its mission of expanding college access and success, particularly among low-income, minority, and other historically underrepresented populations.
Before joining Lumina in January 2008, Merisotis founded and served for 15 years as president of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for Higher Education Policy, one of the world’s premier education research and policy centers. He previously served as executive director of the National Commission on Responsibilities for Financing Postsecondary Education, a bipartisan commission appointed by the U.S. president and congressional leaders. Merisotis also helped create the Corporation for National and Community Service (AmeriCorps), and has served on numerous national and international boards of directors, including Scholarship America, the European Access Network in London, and Bates College in Maine.
Q. How much of Lumina’s efforts relate to community colleges?
A significant portion. Lumina Foundation was established in 2000 and has been a supporter of success in community colleges from the beginning. We’ve spent most of the last few years focusing on this big goal of dramatically increasing the number of Americans with high-quality college degrees and credentials. This big goal has effectively become the president’s Best in the World goal. We like to think that we had a contribution toward creating the conditions that made that proposal a possibility.
Q. What are your thoughts on President Obama’s initiative?
The initiative is consistent with the Achieving the Dream initiative because it focuses on student success, the need to create a paradigm shift, and focusing on creating incentives for institutions to improve their developmental education efforts to better the first-year experience and to help improve transfer and articulation rates. All of that is exciting and timely, and something the federal government can have a dramatic impact on moving the needle.
The biggest gap in the public conversation about higher education is that we haven’t really been able to make the clear linkage between workforce development and our postsecondary education system. We’ve been trying to say, particularly in this time of economic crisis, that we don’t need to develop a workforce development system — we already have one. It’s our colleges and universities. And the community colleges are a critical element of that because of the array of opportunities that they provide. So this initiative, this opportunity to have a measureable difference on the nation’s workforce development and having those 5 million more graduates in the pipeline able to contribute to our economic and social health in the country, is very, very encouraging.
Q. Do you think there will be any challenges in getting the initiative passed through Congress?
There will be a lot of conversation about the level of resources, about how to successfully measure, about ensuring that the resources are being applied toward creating the conditions for success. That’s the right conversation. I don’t think that the government can really treat this as stimulus funding for community colleges. It needs to be targeted in a different way around success, and that’s what the president has done.
The real challenge is going to be to ensure that once it’s passed, the regulations and the implementation stay true to that goal of ensuring student success. That’s going to be hard because we’re facing a long-term economic challenge in this country, and community colleges are really going to be hampered in this environment with a lot more pressure in terms of burgeoning enrollments and fewer local and state resources that they’ll need to do their job well.
Q. Has Lumina’s focus on community and technical colleges changed since the recession began?
Not in a specific sense. The switch—and it’s reflected in all of our work—is that as we’re working toward the implementation of our big-goal strategy, we’re seeing that part of what we can leverage is not just improvements in what institutions do, but also influencing the public’s will for change and ultimately supporting public policy advocacy that’s going to help community colleges do more and do better. So in that sense, there has been a shift because we’re emphasizing public will-building and public policy as pillars — or catalysts— toward meeting those outcomes and that big goal.
Q. What can trustees do to take advantage of new public goodwill and public awareness efforts and maintain the momentum?
Trustees have two very good opportunities to help. One is to take part in that public will-building. Trustees tend to be community leaders, and they need to be a part of that advocacy and awareness process in communities. Many colleges and universities in this country miss the opportunity for their boards to be effective advocates. And that means using them as spokespeople in the media, interacting with policy makers, getting out into the community and really making the case.
The other is to meet their fiduciary and other obligations — to ensure the focus of their colleges is the success of students. That may sound like an obvious idea, but as we all know, there is a lot of pressure on colleges to do a lot of different things, and community colleges are asked to play multiple roles in communities — everything from GED training sites to community training centers. Those roles are terribly important, but the focus of the institution needs to be on the academic and social success of students. That means that trustees need to make sure that resources are applied toward making students successful.
Q. Do you see an increased interest in the community college model elsewhere in the world?
Absolutely. I was in Paris recently for the World Conference on Higher Education, and the U.S. delegation was headed by Martha Kanter, the new U.S. Under Secretary of Education and several distinguished higher education leaders including Dr. Jill Biden. The messaging from them was overwhelmingly about the world’s lack of understanding of the U.S. community college model. This was a great opportunity to help bring this message to the world, saying that when we talk about higher education in the United States, this is a big part of that. And it is going to become even more important, given the economic situation.
Under secretary Kanter told me after the conference that she had two dozen bilateral meetings and the majority of them were about the community college model. And I thought that was tremendously interesting, the interest in understanding the differences between the community college model and, say, a technical or polytechnical model that you might see in other countries, as well as the transfer and articulation models that are not very common in most of the rest of the world. There is clearly a lot of interest.
Q. How does the Lumina Foundation define student success?
Our definition of student success is measurable, transparent learning outcomes for students. We’re interested in ensuring that students know, understand, and are able to do something with their postsecondary credential. That means being able to demonstrate proficiency both with content in whatever program the student is in, and being able to demonstrate generalizable skills, analyze problems and express oneself effectively. Both can be measured.It also means we should do a better job of measuring and evaluating the success of student outcomes.
Graduation rates are one tool in the toolbox, but the current way in which we measure graduation rates is quite ineffective for a variety of reasons. At the national level, we really only have the capacity to measure first-time, full-time students, which is the minority of students at community colleges. So if we can do a better job of creating graduation-rate calculations, graduation rates could be a better measure, but we have to focus less on that than on the question of what students are learning and what they are doing with that knowledge.
Q. Is that something Lumina is investigating?
We’re doing so in a couple of ways. We supported the National Survey of Student Engagement, the Collegiate Learning Assessment, and other tools. We are now experimenting with a derivative from international models — something the Europeans have done called the Bologna Process. This takes a discipline-based approach — graphic design, physics, for example — and develops models of what students need to know, understand, and be able to do with their credential in that area. It’s a faculty-driven process called “tuning” that includes the input of employers, recent graduates, institutional leaders, and students. The idea is to tune the academic program to what the students are actually doing with that specific credential. That’s a great example of how we’re trying to push the envelope in doing a better job of defining and ultimately measuring the learning outcomes for students. We’re also supporting some other experiments. For example, there’s an effort just getting under way supported by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) that measures learning outcomes across countries, and we’re going to try to contribute to this experiment.
Q. What is the role of community colleges in learning preparedness?
Preparation is key to success in college. We believe there is a combination of key economic, financial, and social factors that make you prepared for college. And what we need not to treat them as stovepipes, but as interactive and interconnected elements of what ultimately becomes student success in college — not just making sure they’ve taken the right courses or have financial aid, or the right counseling. The reality is that they need all of those to be successful in college. One of the ways community colleges can play an important role is improving success rates for individuals in remedial courses and programs. And that’s one way that the American Graduation Initiative could be particularly helpful in helping community colleges do a better job of getting more students through developmental work and therefore ready for success in college.
Q. With all of the new pressures from increased enrollments and physical classroom capacity demands, what can community college trustees do to maintain the focus on student success and meeting the needs that were there before the recession was a factor?
Boards are the public conscience of these institutions, and in that role, they need to be the ones who [ask], “Are our programs relevant to the needs of this community or this region?” That’s easy to say and hard to do, because you’ve got the reality of employees and contracts, for example, that you’ve got to work through. But maintaining a focus on workforce relevance is something boards can do particularly well.
They can also use their own stature in their communities to elevate the profile of the college. I come across too many community colleges and too many community college leaders who use the line that “community colleges are one of America’s best-kept secrets.” We need to stop being modest about the important role of community colleges. There is some lingering stigma for some people associated with community colleges, which you can see reflected in popular culture, and boards can help de-stigmatize what community colleges do and help elevate the profile of community colleges within their communities. Read more!
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Click here to read the statement. Read more!