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FW: What Community College Can Do

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  • Lewine, Mark
    thought that this sharp and scary portrayal of the real world that is the context for most decisions regarding colleges and community colleges in particular,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 28 1:15 PM
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      thought that this sharp and scary portrayal of the 'real world' that is
      the context for most decisions regarding colleges and community colleges
      in particular, would be interesting to some of you.


      From: Brown, Shannon
      Sent: Monday, November 28, 2005 9:14 AM
      To: Brown, Shannon
      Subject: What Community College Can Do

      Metro Campus Family:

      The following is from Mr. Terry Butler, Interim Metro Campus President.

      Thank you.



      What Community Colleges Can Do to

      Resurrect a Faltering Economy

      Community colleges can help resurrect a faltering Ohio economy and
      bridge an ever-growing class divide.

      Higher Education in the Spotlight

      The climate in Ohio is right for an increased focus on higher education.
      Richard A. Stoff, President of the Ohio Business Roundtable, recently
      suggested that we might be at a point similar to where primary and
      secondary education was at the beginning of the decade. Now that the
      Ohio General Assembly and the business community have some confidence
      that K-12 academic content standards and other accountability mechanisms
      are in place, and are at least to some degree working, and that the
      business tax climate has been "reformed" satisfactorily for their
      purposes, at least for the time being, there is a sense that it is
      higher education's turn to be in the policy spotlight.

      Newspaper editorials during the last couple of years and Ohio House
      Speaker Jon A. Husted's recent letter to university and college
      presidents would certainly seem to confirm the notion that higher
      education will be a leading edge issue during both the 2006
      gubernatorial election year and the subsequent FY 2008-2009 biennial
      budget debate. (See Attachment A) Editorials have focused fairly
      uniformly on the lack of investment in higher education, while
      legislative interest has most often been placed on eliminating program
      duplication and improving institutional accountability. All have been
      rightly concerned about skyrocketing tuition rates for students. Ohio
      currently has the sixth highest tuition rates in the nation for public
      universities, and the fifth highest such rates for community colleges,
      whose students are generally much more "sticker price" sensitive.
      Recently, fueled by Thomas L. Friedman's provocative book, The World is
      Flat, interest has turned to deficiencies in the STEM programs (science,
      technology, engineering, and math). Wherever you look, there is growing
      recognition that higher education is the key to Ohio's economic future,
      whether considered from the individual's, employer's, or the state's

      Why Community Colleges?

      Community colleges are locally responsive institutions. In a very short
      time, community colleges have established themselves as key change
      agents in the communities that they serve and in the peoples' lives that
      they reach. They have become the portal of entry for hundreds of
      thousands that would otherwise be denied access to higher education with
      their demonstrated, historic commitment to affordability. They have
      earned a changed perception in the minds of both policymakers and the
      general public alike with a now near universal acceptance of their
      academic worthiness. They have established themselves in a pre-eminent
      position as workforce trainers among numerous providers and have begun
      to attract national attention as a key asset for America's
      competitiveness in a global economy.

      One of the great things about community colleges from a policymaker's
      perspective is that not only are they more nimble and flexible
      institutions than other forms of higher education, but because of their
      relatively smaller size, it takes comparatively little public investment
      to serve as a catalyst for changed behavior. The investment to reward
      ratio, or return on investment (ROI), is greater, especially in terms of
      the immediacy of an anticipated impact in this sector. One example of
      this was the new investments in Access Challenge made in fiscal years
      1998 through 2001, and its subsequent impact on tuition levels at
      two-year campuses and their enrollments. (See Attachment B)

      What Do They Bring to the Community?

      Despite their relatively smaller size, most Ohioans would be surprised
      to learn about the collective impact of community colleges. Many people
      are not even aware, for example, that community colleges can provide
      education and training for the registered nursing (RN) profession, let
      alone the fact that they educate 65% of the state's new RN pool or that
      these community college RN graduates pass the same state licensure
      examination at exactly the same rate as baccalaureate degree holders
      (89%). They would be further surprised to learn that community colleges
      train and credential 85% of the nation's "first responders."

      The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Bureau of Labor Market
      Information has projected that the Ohio economy needs a 21.7% increase
      in new associate degree graduates during the 10-year period from 2002 to
      2012. (See Attachment C) This is easily the fastest for any
      educational and training category and far surpasses the overall
      projected job growth for the state of 9.7% during this period. It
      should perhaps then not be too startling to learn that new Ohio
      associate degree holders actually earn more money immediately following
      graduation than their baccalaureate degree counterparts ($34,400 versus
      $32,207 in 2003). This is not because two years is better than four
      years of postsecondary education, but rather is reflective of the
      marketplace. Community colleges have their greatest concentration of
      graduates in high demand, high paying fields, such as health care and
      engineering technology.

      It may be at the individual level where community colleges have their
      greatest impact. One's family income status at birth should not
      foreshadow one's ultimate station in life, but sadly this has become the
      case in America over the last 25 years. Seventy-six percent (76%) of
      individuals from families with incomes over $75,000 will earn an
      associate degree or higher versus only 19% from families with less than
      $25,000, according to data from Jobs for the Future, a Boston,
      Massachusetts based nonprofit "think tank" focused on education and
      workforce issues. (See Attachment D)

      Community colleges are the institution that may be best equipped to
      bridge this growing class divide. "The unique value of the community
      college," according to Sinclair Community College President Emeritus Dr.
      Ned J. Sifferlen, "lies in helping working adults and young people
      advance from $7 per hour jobs to $17 per hour careers." These
      institutions provide the education and training necessary to lift many
      Ohioans from poverty to good livable wages for themselves and their

      Policy Recommendations

      An Inverted Funding Model

      A little over 50% of all Ohio undergraduates in terms of student
      headcount now attend two-year campuses. If only community colleges are
      the focus, this percentage drops to below half. This is significantly
      different from some competitor states where 70 to 75% of their
      baccalaureate degree seekers begin their postsecondary education at
      community colleges. In part, this difference is due to the historical
      development of our "system," and to the fact that meaningful statewide
      articulation and transfer with our public universities is just now
      becoming a reality in Ohio. However, as long as the core funding
      structure for higher education skews results in such a manner as to
      increase the student share of higher education costs for lower division
      education relative to other levels of education, system change will
      inevitably be marginalized. (See Attachment E)

      Ohio's funding structure is directly counter to what is required to
      foster access and to meet the goal of the Governor's Commission on
      Higher Education and the Economy (CHEE) of increasing enrollments by 30%
      by 2015. It would also seem counter to the proposition put forth by the
      Ohio higher education community in its Return on Educational Investment
      (ROEI) initiative. If we are to boost state revenues with increased
      higher educational investment according to the ROEI formula, dollars
      need to be directed where they can best drive new enrollments and where
      they can be used to maximize success with a student population that may
      be less prepared and need additional resources to succeed. The current
      funding structure simply does not facilitate this. The student share
      for the cost of undergraduate studies at the freshmen and sophomore
      levels should not exceed that at other levels of postsecondary

      Other ideas that could improve the mix would be to provide new
      investments in an existing instrument such as Access Challenge and/or
      consolidating most developmental education services in two-year
      campuses. This latter notion, which was proposed several years ago by
      an Ohio legislative study commission, may not be pragmatic in every
      case, but certainly more developmental education services could be
      concentrated at the most affordable institutions.

      Some Ideas from Virginia

      Thinking even more boldly, we should look at two items proposed in the
      Commonwealth of Virginia. One idea is to create a vision that every
      high school graduate earns at least a term of college credit before high
      school graduation or a term of postsecondary occupation certification.
      This idea, termed "Senior Year Plus" is already being implemented in
      Virginia, and the Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC) is
      proposing something similar here with regard to Ohio's own Postsecondary
      Enrollment Options Program (PSEO). (See Attachments F and G) A P-16
      perspective is essential in meeting what must be our shared goal,
      enabling all Ohio students to achieve their highest educational
      aspirations in the most efficient and cost effective manner possible for
      students, their families, and the state. However, it is imperative that
      Ohio resolve the funding disadvantage inherent in this program for
      school districts before proceeding with implementation, and the OACC
      paper addresses this matter as well.

      The other Virginia proposal that has more recently put forward would
      provide each university with $1,000 per transfer student for community
      college graduates with a grade point average of "B" or better. (See
      Attachment H) The purpose would be to provide these students with
      community college tuition rates at the four-year university that they
      attend. The increased cost of the incentive payment to the university
      would be offset by the savings or cost avoidance of more students
      attending transfer programs as a result of the incentive. As the
      educational bar is raised, programs such as this are essential to move
      all students as far along the educational continuum as they can go. It
      would be hard to think of a more effective incentive to encourage more
      Ohioans to start their postsecondary education at more affordable
      alternatives. It would also dramatically increase community college
      retention and completion rates, which while better than in many states,
      are still not what we would ideally want them to be, even given our
      mission to educate and train a population often having multiple risk

      Partnerships with Universities

      Many Ohioans are place bound. With families and jobs to consider, it is
      simply not possible for them to consider relocating after acquiring
      their associate's degree at a local community college. Lorain County
      Community College developed its highly effective University Partnership
      to respond to the problem of having the lowest baccalaureate degree
      attainment in Northeast Ohio despite having the highest associate degree
      attainment. This was made possible through community support in the
      form of a local levy, an option that is simply not realistic in most
      places in the state. We need to offer incentives to Ohio universities
      to provide similar bachelor's degree completion programs on two-year
      campuses to allow these individuals to progress towards a baccalaureate

      As noted, a lot of recent activity, both here and elsewhere, has
      centered on the STEM baccalaureate programs. We need to build the
      community colleges into any discussion on STEM programs. From a
      technology perspective, their students are no less impacted than
      students at four-year institutions. If you are going to build a
      workforce-to-spec, and if that includes nurses, the science curriculum
      is important. Similarly, in the area of information technology,
      technology, math, and science all have relevance.

      We also need to encourage our public universities to develop more
      applied baccalaureate degrees that are fully articulated with community
      college associate degrees to meet the changing requirements of the
      workplace. In some states, community colleges are offering these
      applied baccalaureate degrees directly, but this could confuse the
      community college mission and, if not careful, provide an incoherent
      institutional identity. It should be considered only as a last resort,
      when no public university is willing to step forward to meet a
      documented community need.

      Reaching the Nontraditional Population

      These proposals would improve Ohio's standing in postsecondary education
      access among its traditional aged college-going population. While this
      is important, Ohio has already achieved the national average in terms of
      the percentage of its traditional aged students attending postsecondary
      education. Its real shortfall lies in its record in serving the adult
      population, which is woeful. Data from the Keeping America's Promise
      report, a joint project of the Education Commission of the States and
      the League for Innovation in the Community College, indicates that if
      Ohio could match the participation rate among students aged 25 and above
      to the same level as benchmark states, its enrollments would increase by
      72% by 2015. (See Attachment I)

      The well thought out AccelerateOhio proposal supported by the Ohio Board
      of Regents and the OACC offers some solutions to this dilemma. (See
      Attachment J) A primary target of the CHEE was "working adults who need
      to raise their educational level to be more successful and have more
      options for advancement in the workplace." The KnowledgeWorks
      Foundation, through their work on the Ohio Bridges to Opportunities
      Initiative (OBOI) have found that noncredit instruction in critical
      skill areas related to economic success is an effective tool for getting
      adult workers into the educational continuum. AccelerateOhio would
      begin to fund instruction in carefully defined areas that have obvious
      benefit in improving the Ohio economy, that are affordable to low-wage
      working Ohioans, and have a strong potential for further education.

      Workforce Development

      A related problem in serving the adult population is the turf that
      community colleges share with career-technical centers in adult
      education and workforce development. It is an impediment to the
      development of Ohio's performance in economic development, although it
      should be noted that not all of the duplication is unnecessary
      duplication to the recipient of the services provided. A "win-win"
      strategy is needed that, while honoring Ohio's unique history, begins to
      enhance system cohesion and delivery of services. Clearly, however,
      community colleges should have more of a lead role given that they are
      the best vehicle for transitioning these noncredit adult students to a
      credit, degree-seeking environment. Community colleges provide the
      ladder necessary for individuals to move from noncredit coursework to a
      certificate to an associate degree and to a bachelor's degree or even
      beyond. While opportunity is a starting point, it is the acquisition of
      credentials, certificates, and degrees that changes lives and improve
      society by taking individuals from low-wage jobs to livable wages for
      their families. Productive, but still preliminary, dialogue is
      currently underway between these two sectors under the leadership of the
      KnowledgeWorks Foundation.

      Serving All

      Another impediment to service provision on a statewide basis is that
      there remain fully 28 counties in Ohio that are not part of a community
      college service district. Importantly, Warren County was recently added
      to Sinclair Community College's service district, which previously had
      only included Montgomery County. Warren County suggests a model for
      completing Ohio's community college system. If we can enlarge a college
      service district when one county has a levy and one does not as was the
      case with Montgomery and Warren Counties, surely we can make strides
      elsewhere in "filling in the map." Simply put, geography matters. It
      effectively commits board members and college administrators alike to
      serving a place bound population. (See Attachments K and L)


      Ohio's 23 community colleges are undiscovered jewels. While they do
      much to advance Ohio's economic success and that of its citizenry,
      policy and systemic obstacles currently limit them from fulfilling their
      vast potential. The positions put forward in this policy paper attempt
      to address this gap.

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