updated: 5/31/2012 7:31:57 AM
An organization made up of community college leaders from across the country is holding a conference this week in Indianapolis. Rebuild America's Middle Class is a coalition that aims to advocate for the institutions, discuss workforce preparation and offer solutions to college affordability issues.
May 30, 2012
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Amid a sputtering economic recovery, soaring student loan debt, skyrocketing tuition and a shortage of skilled workers, new approaches to preparing America’s future workforce are more important than ever. To identify and pursue meaningful solutions to America’s higher education crisis, a new, national coalition of community colleges, called Rebuilding America’s Middle Class (RAMC), will explore ways to strengthen the role of these postsecondary institutions in securing a brighter economic future.
On Wednesday, May 30, the coalition will hold its inaugural two-day meeting in Indianapolis. Keynote speakers include Governor Mitch Daniels and Jamie Merisotis, president and CEO, of Lumina Foundation.
More on the agenda can be found here ( http://www.supportramc.org/events.html).
The coalition will work with community colleges, higher education leaders, policymakers, elected officials and others to pursue an agenda for action that clearly communicates the critical role that community colleges play in preparing America’s future workforce and rebuilding our economy.
America’s community colleges currently educate 13 million students a year and account for 44 percent of all Americans enrolled in undergraduate postsecondary institutions, with a net enrollment increase of 9 percent between 2006 and 2010. Community colleges are at the heart of propelling America’s economy forward by nimbly adjusting to job market demands and providing students with access to programs that will teach them high demand skills.
Community colleges also provide this pathway to the middle class at a much lower cost than their four-year counterparts. Students can complete a professional certificate in two semesters or less of course work for $1500 to $4000 in tuition and fees, books, and other course materials; a two-year degree for around $7000 to $8000; and a three-year registered nursing degree, including its clinical component, for around $10,000. That amounts to less than half the basic costs at four-year public colleges and universities.
“We face a defining moment for America’s future – one that will determine just how committed we are to providing everyone a shot at the American Dream and the middle class,” said Glenn DuBois, chancellor of Virginia's Community Colleges and founding member of RAMC. “The unfortunate reality is that we are failing to meet our responsibility to ensure that our system of higher education is meeting the needs of our students and our employers. That’s what this coalition is all about – elevating the role of community colleges in the effort to build a stronger, more competitive workforce.”
RAMC will focus on the following policy areas to ensure that community colleges are providing better and more opportunities for students to successfully earn a certificate or degree and get a job that has value in the marketplace:
• Workforce Development - The federal government spends billions of dollars every year on a national job training system that simply does not reach the large number of youth and adults that our nation desperately needs to target. Community colleges are that natural place to ensure that these dollars are going directly to the education and training students need to acquire the skills required for success in today’s job market.
• Affordability - To be the path to the middle class, college attendance simply cannot drive students into unmanageable debt. Whether as the first step to a four-year degree or as the provider of a two-year degree or high quality certification, community colleges are the most affordable option for all postsecondary students. RAMC will work to ensure that federal financial aid programs are not biased against effective and innovative community college programs.
• Supporting Innovation – Federal regulations often stifle the efforts of community colleges to expand access while controlling costs. RAMC will continue to engage in meaningful efforts to mitigate the impacts of burdensome federal regulations.
Source: Ivy Tech Community College