Is summit a consolation prize?

The Oct. 5 Community College Summit is “viewed by many political observers as a consolation prize,” reports Inside Higher Ed.  President Obama proposed the $12-billion American Graduation Initiative, then let it be stripped from the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act. When the bill was signed, the president promised to hold the summit, which will be chaired by Jill Biden, the vice-president’s wife, a community college instructor.

It is not clear who will be invited to the event, whether it will actually take place at the White House, or if either the president or vice president is scheduled to make an appearance.

The summit apparently will “center on President Obama’s goal for the country to have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by 2020 and how community colleges can help achieve this target,” Inside Higher Ed reports.

“Given that there’s not going to be additional money and there probably won’t be new legislation, the conversation shifts to what the Department of Education can do to meet the president’s graduation goals,” said Thomas Bailey, director of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University Teachers College. “I think that’s a perfectly useful discussion to have, and it makes these issues more prominent. But, without additional resources or new resources, it’s not clear to me what can be done.”

On College Guide, Daniel Luzer suggests the summit needs a more substantive agenda than reminding people that community colleges are “important.”

For example, how are community colleges going to meet expanding enrollment with limited funding? What’s the best way to train laid-off and would-be workers for jobs? Should college resources be reserved for students who are at or near the college level, sending ultra-remedial students to adult education? Does it matter if college teachers are all adjuncts?