Higher ed partnerships expand high school curricular horizons

A hundred 11th- and 12th-grade students in New York City will be able to take a free online criminal justice course, “Introduction to Criminal Justice,” from Howard University during the 2020-21 school year as part of a partnership with the nonprofit National Education Equity Lab, District Administration reports. Other partnerships are also underway with colleges and universities, via the non-profit, including Yale University, the University of Connecticut and Arizona State University. All will focus on expanding opportunities to low-income students and students of color.

How COVID Could Impact Transfer

Colleges were placing more emphasis on transfer partnerships long before the COVID-19 pandemic began this past spring. The high school population is decreasing in most parts of the country, leaving many four-year institutions with gaps in enrollment. Some experts say those colleges need transfer students from two-year colleges to survive. Community colleges, in turn, need to work with four-year colleges to prevent poaching of their students and to help students achieve their goals. Eighty percent of community college students intend to earn a bachelor’s degree, but only about 17 percent do so within six years, according to data from the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University.

What happens when community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees?

People who earned a bachelor’s degree at Florida community colleges were making about $10,000 more annually than their peers who received associate degrees in similar fields four quarters after graduating, according to a new analysis from New America, a left-leaning think tank. The share of bachelor’s degree recipients who were Black, White, Asian-American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander closely mirrored that of Florida’s population, though Latinx students were underrepresented. They were also more likely to be older than their peers at state universities. The analysis sheds light on the labor market outcomes other states can expect from allowing community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees.

Census working with colleges for accurate count

The U.S. Census has faced operational changes for collecting data in the 2020 count. The coronavirus pandemic has affected how colleges and universities are conducting classes, with some students attending class virtually. With Missouri Western State University in St. Joseph there is a great need to for all of the students who attend the school to count for the community. The Census Bureau has altered the way they collect data so communities with colleges or technical schools are not receiving less federal funding than they should.

COVID-19 and Rural Higher Education

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused seismic shifts for postsecondary education. For rural colleges, the pandemic exacerbated issues that have affected students and communities for decades. Education gaps between rural communities and their more urbanized counterparts are well documented. While 41 percent of urban adults have a college degree, only 28 percent of rural adults do. The college access gap between rural and urban areas is sizable: In most states, rural high school students achieve graduation rates similar to urban and suburban counterparts, but their college enrollment rates are much lower. Rural communities have long been confronted with unique education challenges.

The labor market doesn’t have a ‘skills gap’—it has an opportunity gap

As the United States reels from the COVID-19 pandemic’s catastrophic economic damage, the tight labor markets from early 2020 seem like a distant memory. The country had 11.5 million fewer jobs this August than in February, but, paradoxically, many business leaders continue to center the problem with labor markets on “unqualified” individuals without the right skills. “The COVID-19 economic shock has made the skills gap broader and the need to close it more urgent,” the World Economic Forum recently said. This narrative frames labor market problems through a deficit lens: Low-income and displaced workers “lack” skills and motivation, contributing to the national skills gap.

Report Analyzes Impact of Guided Pathways Practices at Community Colleges

The Center for Community College Student Engagement’s new report analyzed the impact of guided pathways practices at community colleges across the country. Its research, “Building Momentum: Using Guided Pathways to Redesign the Student Experience,” used student and faculty perspectives. More than 100,000 community college students and 7,000 community college faculty members were used as part of the report. The guided pathways practices are “designed to help colleges improve rates of student completion, transfer and attainment of jobs with value in the labor market,” the report said.

Standing Up for Professors

Washington and Lee University in Virginia continues to face criticism from some corners over discussions about changing its name, along with certain campus traditions, to those that don’t honor Confederate general Robert E. Lee. In the midst of these rebukes, the university recently offered unequivocal support for two professors targeted for their work and views. In the first case, Breitbart posted a story about a course to be offered this semester called How to Overthrow the State? It’s a titillating tile, but the course itself one of many first-year writing seminar options and doesn’t exactly operate as Anarchy 101.

Hitting Close to Home

University and college administrators are clearly having a tough time monitoring the daily activities of students during the pandemic, much less controlling their risky behaviors on weekends. This was evident in the parties and other gatherings widely documented on social media during Labor Day weekend and the subsequent spikes in COVID-19 outbreaks on campuses across the country. This was not the case at North Carolina A&T State University, a historically Black institution where, in a first, classes were held on Labor Day.

The Campus Color Line

As college presidents across the country are called to address the institutional racism built into their campuses, many frame racial issues as a one-time concern, said Eddie R. Cole, an associate professor of higher education and organizational change at the University of California, Los Angeles. This is a problem, because “no college campus is immune to social history,” Cole said. In his new book, out at the end of this month, The Campus Color Line: College Presidents and the Struggle for Black Freedom, Cole dives deep into college presidents’ historical role in desegregation, racist housing policies, free speech policies, affirmative action and more.

CDC Issues New Testing Guidance for Colleges

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its COVID-19 testing guidance for colleges. The new guidance includes fresh detailed information on how to prioritize testing for students, faculty members and staff members in the event of an outbreak. But it disappointed some experts who think the CDC’s guidance on testing asymptomatic individuals for disease monitoring and surveillance purposes falls short of what’s needed.

Despite Warnings, No Clear Advice on Closing Dorms

In interviews and in a call with several governors, three of the nation’s top medical leaders dealing with the coronavirus outbreak urged colleges not to close residence halls and send potentially infected students back home. “That’s the worst thing you can do,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said on the Today show, echoing Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, and Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But on the ground, university officials who have decided to do just what the health leaders are urging them not to do say that continuing to house students amid a rapid outbreak is easier said than done.

College tuition benchmark posts big drop in August

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) for college tuition and fees saw a significant decline from July to August, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics data released Friday. The CPI for the category slid by a seasonally adjusted 0.7 percent, the biggest drop since 1978, according to Bloomberg. Year-over-year, the index for tuition was up only 1.3 percent, according to the department’s unadjusted figures. The decrease comes as colleges reduce tuition to stay competitive during the pandemic, but experts fear they will struggle to increase their rates later.

C-Lab: The Path to Policy Reform Is Paved in Partnership

While innovation, policy reform and infrastructure development historically happen alongside—but more often without—students, the current crisis created by COVID-19 is an opportunity to elevate and integrate student voices into collective efforts and decision-making. Pilot projects exploring student-owned/controlled digital wallets and learner-centric ecosystem designs can enable a more inclusive social structure that elevates all voices, not just those in positions of privilege or power.

Colleges met with strikes, collective action over fall reopening plans

Several colleges’ decisions to offer campus-based instruction are the subject of strikes or legal pushback as coronavirus cases mount in the U.S. That includes the University of Iowa, where some on campus are urging the administration to move entirely to virtual education, and the University of Michigan, where graduate students are demanding more flexibility during the pandemic. Experts say strikes are more likely on campuses where administrators don’t consult with faculty members before making decisions or forge agreements with their unions about pandemic-related concerns.

Community Colleges and the Future of Work: Exploring Skill Demands Amid the Pandemic

Demand for frontline medical workers has spiked as hospitals and other in-patient medical facilities grapple with testing and treating COVID-19 patients. Many essential healthcare providers have quickly implemented telemedicine to virtually interact with patients. Across industries, the transition to remote operations has driven notable growth in cloud computing and software. Disruption to the global supply chain has driven some manufacturing firms to rapidly repurpose their factories to produce essential supplies such as respirators and face shields. These are just some of the ways the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted employment and accelerated changes in the workplace, putting new demands on workers and, by extension, the community college programs that train them.