American Graduation Initiative Looks To Community Colleges

This week President Obama announced the American Graduation Initiative, a $12 billion plan to strengthen the nation’s community colleges and significantly increase the number of college graduates over the next decade. Since I am now at a community college, the announcement is of particular interest. I hope that educators in K-12 and at 4-year schools don't pass over the news though, as I think it will have an impact on both those areas too.

Speaking at Macomb Community College in Michigan (an area hit hard by auto industry problems), the President applauded the role community colleges play in creating the prosperity of the nation and explained that his plan will enable the United States to prepare effectively for the jobs and global challenges of the future.

Reading a White House blog post about the initiative you find that it calls for an additional 5 million community college graduates by 2020, and new initiatives to teach Americans the skills they will need to compete with workers from other nations.

President Obama briefly outlined initiatives to increase the effectiveness of community colleges. Some of the other goals of the initiative are to increase graduation rates, modernize facilities, and create new online learning opportunities.

In his remarks, he talked about earlier education initiatives that changed the nature of college education in the U.S.

Time and again, when we have placed our bet for the future on education, we have prospered as a result - by tapping the incredible innovative and generative potential of a skilled American workforce. That is what happened when President Lincoln signed into law legislation creating the land grant colleges which not only transformed higher education, but also our economy. That is what took place when President Roosevelt signed the GI Bill which helped educate a generation - and usher in an era of unprecedented prosperity…
He called the new initiative announcement a "significant down payment" towards reaching those goals in the next ten years and helping an additional five million Americans earn degrees and certificates in the next decade.

Projections show that in the coming years jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience.

There are a number of points in this announcement worth writing about in future posts - workforce development, perhaps redefining associate degrees, the role of online education, and what "modernizing" community colleges should mean.


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