I am alarmed and shocked by the recent “Students First” proposal by the Board of Regents, which proposes to dismantle Connecticut’s community college system. This proposal is likely to go down in history as a paradigmatic case of bad management and the worst kind of public policy. It’s almost breathtaking how poorly this idea has been thought through and executed.
As the leaders of the Connecticut State Colleges & Universities, Connecticut’s public higher education system comprised of 17 institutions, we are dedicated to providing students with opportunities to achieve their personal and professional goals. We count among these students those who are undocumented, particularly those in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Each year, several publications identify the best public research universities in the United States. The U.S. News & World Report, though not without its limitations, has become the “go to” guide for prospective college students and their parents. In the latest rankings, the University of Connecticut is No. 20 of 133 public research universities in the country. UConn is tied at the spot with Purdue University and University of Maryland, and it is ranked ahead of five Big Ten public research universities.
All of us are closely following CSCU President Mark Ojakian’s proposal for a dramatic reform of the state higher education system. Above and beyond politics, or Ojakian’s (aggressively questioned) experience in higher education, he is absolutely right in one truth: Our system is unsustainable and this is as simple as change or die.
While neighboring New York has declared free two-year and four-public education, and Massachusetts/Rhode Island maintain their high standards for accessible public education, Connecticut seems to have lost its collective mind this week with the passing of BOR President Mark Ojakian’s plan to consolidate and possibly eliminate the Connecticut Community College system in our state.
In recommending a plan to consolidate the state’s 12 community colleges in order to sustain the larger CSCU system, President Mark Ojakian maintains that this latest disruption in Connecticut higher education was never the goal of the consolidation that created CSCU in 2011. However, since it was Ojakian who crafted that original reorganization plan for the Malloy administration, his denial seems somewhat disingenuous and promises to result in similarly disappointing outcomes.
Quinebaug Valley Community College has been on Main Street in Willimantic since 1999. While Quinebaug Valley Community College may not be centerfold on Main Street; it is the heart that keeps Main Street thriving. That’s why Quinebaug Valley Community College is an excellent start for someone to begin their college career. Unfortunately, though; there are plans to shut down the Willimantic center after the spring 2017 semester. That should not be allowed to happen.
An adjunct faculty member at UConn’s Hartford regional campus explains her busy life, teaching duties and the need for the university to evaluate the way it treats adjunct professors and find ways to improve the conditions of their employment.
The American Association of Community College’s “Community College Agenda for the Trump Administration” is a blueprint for implementation of critical national higher education policy priorities, touching on needs regarding financial support, infrastructure investment and regulatory issues from a national policy perspective. In the recently released document, the AACC presents a vision of “how the federal government can help community colleges fulfill their mission of building a stronger America.” This vision resonates within Connecticut as well. I’d like to personalize that perspective to help underscore how investment in Connecticut’s community colleges helps secure the future of our state.
Education remains the clearest pathway to better jobs and promising futures in the U.S.A. By 2020, 70 percent of jobs will require post-secondary education; as such, Connecticut must recommit to educational opportunity for all by ensuring that all residents have access to an affordable, quality public higher education.
What I learned from watching three hours of the Senate confirmation hearing for Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education:
1. Betsy DeVos demonstrated a lack of any understanding about student assessment.
2. Betsy DeVos said that permitting guns in schools is a decision that should be left up to individual schools.
3. Betsy DeVos did not commit to preschool for all children.
I am writing to you and the entire Connecticut Congressional delegation to request your support for the bipartisan Bar Removal of Individuals who Dream and Grow our Economy (BRIDGE) Act which was reintroduced in the Senate yesterday, with companion legislation expected in the House. As you know, Connecticut believes in accessible and affordable public higher education for all of our citizens, including those who are undocumented.