Obama campaign stresses community colleges

Asked to pitch President Obama’s education policies on Eduwonk, Melody Barnes, former domestic policy advisor, focused on Community Colleges And American Competitiveness.

President Obama . . . is investing in America’s world-class network of community colleges to prepare men and women for middle-class jobs in industries that will ensure international competitiveness.  And President Obama will bring together community colleges and employers, training 2 million Americans for good jobs that exist.

The economy is recovering, Barnes argues. Many laid-off workers turned to community colleges for job training.

Knowing the importance of our community college system, the Obama Administration invested wisely to help keep tuition down and classes available so community colleges could welcome new students in droves.

Frankly, I’m not sure what she’s talking about. Community colleges are funded by state and local taxpayers, not the federal government. Tuition is up because state funding is down. President Obama proposed a multi-billion-dollar program for community colleges, then traded it away to get Obamacare passed. Pell Grant spending has soared and much of that goes to community college students. But that’s not what Barnes said.

She goes on to tout the value of occupational certificates and associate degrees.

The President is working with community colleges to improve job training programs that set a goal to prepare two million people – including veterans and dislocated workers – for good-paying jobs in fast-growing industries such as advanced manufacturing and aerospace. And, public-private partnerships are training and connecting workers with jobs in emerging industries like clean energy and biosciences, information technology and health care.

Those partnerships make lots of sense, which is why they’ll continue whoever wins the election. Well, except for “clean energy,” which isn’t generating many jobs so far.

Writing for the Romney campaign, Martin West, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education stressed improving K-12 schools by expanding choice. But he does write that Gov. Romney has pledged not to cut Pell Grants, while President Obama has no plan “to pay for the $58 billion hole facing the Pell Grant program over the next 10 years.” The president also hasn’t said how he’d “pay for a permanent fix to prevent student loan interest rates from doubling,” West writes.

He has also failed to strengthen higher education for job training.  The Inspector General at the Department of Labor recommended that his $500 million green-jobs training program be shut down because it had only placed 15% of its participants.

Both candidates linked education to economic prosperity at the second debate, notes Ed Week.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON October 18, 2012

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