Community College

On April 16, 2014, President Obama asked Vice President Biden to take the lead on investments necessary to assist individuals get trained with the skills needed to land a job. Following training the initiative strives to help hard-working Americans get placed in a good, middle class job.  The first effort offers competitive grants to partnerships of community colleges, employers and industry so they can create job-driven training programs.

With help from a $25 million U.S. Department of Labor grant the Montana University System will overhaul the state's community colleges and increase the speed at which skilled workers enter the workforce.  The goal of the grant is to fill job shortages in a number of emerging manufacturing fields and change how students earn a training certificate.  

Nearly 4 million youth are unemployed in the U.S. while as many as 600,000 manufacturing jobs currently remain vacant.   Business and industry are frustrated at not finding skilled workers to fill these jobs so these positions sit waiting to be filled.  This gap can be closed if educational institutions work closely with business to prepare students for the ever-changing market where skills depreciate quickly and credentials beyond a high school diploma are necessary.  When institutions and business work together both employees and companies benefit from the outcome.  

Historically, community colleges have served as an entry point to higher education for many students, particularly nontraditional older students as well as those from low-income households. Community colleges provide general education courses that often, but not always, are transferable to public four-year colleges and universities. For students who persist, the outcome at community colleges has traditionally been a two-year associate degree. Over the past 20 years, however, the line in the sand separating two- and four-year postsecondary institutions has begun to erode. Twenty states have begun meeting the demand for more bachelor’s degrees by giving community colleges an expanded role and allowing them to offer four-year degrees. 

On Monday, President Barack Obama officially unveiled his budget for 2013.  As he spoke from Northern Virginia Community College, Obama highlighted the more than $65 billion in education funding focused on resources dedicated to transforming K-12 and postsecondary education to ensure students have the skills and knowledge to succeed in the future.

Educators and policymakers realize that all of America’s students need a high-quality education to prepare them for college and careers. 2012 promises to be another busy year in  transformational strategies in education. In order to ensure a world-class education, leaders will likely address these top five issues facing states and territories (“the states”) this year.

Maryland became the 12th state in the country to allow illegal immigrants living within its borders to attend colleges and universities at in-state prices when Gov. Martin O’Malley signed Senate Bill 167 in early May.

This Act establishes a program to enable eleventh and twelfth grade high school students to attend postsecondary colleges and schools and get high school credit. It contains requirements for course credit and state funding.

Higher education across the country continues to struggle with state funding cuts, aging facilities, increasing tuition rates and a rapidly increasing student population. An annual survey of community college directors conducted by the Education Policy Center shows  educators are worried if these trends continue, higher education may be out of reach for many Americans.

Community colleges are in crisis mode in the wake of the Great Recession. They are at the center of work force retraining for those left unemployed by the economic collapse and at the same time are experiencing large increases in enrollment of 18-year-olds looking to start their higher education careers. Underfunded for years, community colleges also are being hit with more budget cuts as states struggle to close massive budget deficits—leading to tuition increases and enrollment caps just as the services community colleges offer are needed most.