Georgia boosts black male enrollment, graduation

Black male college enrollment rose by 80 percent in Georgia from 2002 to 2011, reports the Chronicle of Higher Education. Black males earned nearly 60 percent more college degrees and the six-year graduation rate increased to 40 percent for black males who started college in 2005, “an 11 percentage-point uptick since the program’s inception.” The African-American Male Initiative, a statewide program, reported its results at the American Council on Education’s annual meeting.

At the College of Coastal Georgia . . .  incoming black male freshmen can take part in a “Summer Bridge & Go” program, which includes eight weeks of advanced instruction in reading, writing, and mathematics, and a chance to connect with campus mentors.

Columbus State University, meanwhile, offers Projecting Hope, which aims to help black male students from rural areas. Georgia Highlands College has a first-year experience program for black males by way of the Georgia Highlands African-American and Minority Male Excellence organization.

The ACE discussion of boosting minority success also featured the Academy for College Excellence, a program for “struggling but strong” community-college students that began at Cabrillo College in California, and North Carolina A&T University’s Middle College, a single-sex public high school for male students on the university’s Greensboro campus.

Skills gap is small, but growing

The “skills gap” is no big deal now — but it could be in the future, if we don’t take steps to train new workers, writes Harold Sirkin, a Boston Consulting Group partner, in Businessweek.

The shortage of skilled welders, machinists, and industrial machinery mechanics represents less than 1 percent of U.S. manufacturing workers, Sirkin estimates.  Only seven states and five cities – Baton Rouge, Charlotte, Miami, San Antonio, and Wichita — have significant shortages.

However, that could change in the next 10 years as manufacturing grows and baby boomers retire. The average high-skilled manufacturing worker in the U.S. is 56 years old, according to government data.

Technical and community colleges are working with employers to train workers in some parts of the country,  Sirkin writes.

In Georgia, for example, a program called Quick Start provides companies with customized workforce training and retraining, free of charge, in partnership with the state’s technical colleges.

Here in Chicago, the Austin Polytechnical Academy teaches students all aspects of industry and has its own manufacturing training center.

“Most high-skill manufacturing jobs require only a high school education and on-the-job training,” yet few companies recruit in high schools, Sirkin writes. And manufacturing doesn’t appeal to young people seeking bachelor’s degrees, even though half of recent college graduates are unemployed or underemployed.

The question we need to ask bright young people today is this: Would they be better off with a college degree in mass communication, “poli sci,” or sociology that gets them a job as a retail clerk or waiting tables, or would they be better off with a real skill that qualifies them for a high-paying manufacturing job?

After years of high unemployment and rising college costs, students are wising up about borrowing for a degree in what we used to call “fuzzy studies.” But advanced manufacturing — and other technical careers — may not be open to students with weak math and science skills.

Georgia spends millions on remedial ed

Georgia is spending millions of dollars on college remedial classes, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Georgia’s colleges are trying to improve remedial education by developing new curricula, requiring students to attend class more often and using technology to provide individualized instruction. But some question whether colleges should even be serving students who can’t handle the academic rigor.

By fall 2012 the university system, which includes eight two-year colleges, no longer will admit students who need remedial courses in reading, English and math.  Students will have two attempts, instead of four, to pass each reading and English class and three tries, instead of five, to pass two math classes.

The state’s remediation rate dropped in the 1990s but increased in recent years as enrollment skyrocketed. Also, the system implemented a pilot program eliminating the SAT requirement at 16 campuses. These colleges tend to enroll older adults, those who work full-time and students who are also caregivers at home. The pilot program is scheduled to end in 2011.

Atlanta Metro now offers a free class to prepare students to pass placement tests that determine if they are ready for college-level courses. The college also expanded the remedial math class to include a third-day lab.

South Georgia College is working with the Carnegie Foundation Mathway Project to move students quickly from a newly designed remedial math class to college-level math the following semester.

Georgia Perimeter College is experimenting with computer programs that allow remedial math students to work at their own pace.

It’s no wonder so many students aren’t ready for college math, writes a high school teacher on Ricochet. Georgia adopted a trendy “integrated” math curriculum in 2005.  The “average student is completely lost.”

‘Community college’ goes global

Community colleges educate 46 percent of U.S. undergraduates, 58 percent of students in Israel, 20 percent in Korea and France, and 26 percent in Japan, reports Inside Higher Ed. The community college concept has gone global.

Rosalind Latiner Raby, co-editor of the book Community College Models (Springer, 2009), looks at community colleges and similar programs in 30 countries. Many are adding the ability to transfer to a four-year college.

LaGuardia Community College worked with the Universidad Central de Chile to create the Community College de Santiago.

In creating the community college, “the board took into account, among other reasons, the great need existing in Chile of preparing students who after a period of two years at the university are prepared to get a job at the level known in Chile as technician,” Luis Merino, the Universidad Central’s vice rector of academic affairs, explained in an e-mail. “Well-prepared technicians are badly needed in our country.”

. . . Students can earn dual degrees, from the Community College de Santiago and LaGuardia, in accounting, business administration, computer technology/telecommunications, computer operations/computer network administration and security, and computer science. When students complete the two-year degree, they can get a job or transfer their credits and continue their studies at the Universidad Central.

“The challenge is really about open access and transfer. Those very new concepts are challenging to develop around the world,” said Gail Mellow, LaGuardia’s chancellor.

Many countries see community colleges as a way to develop a trained workforce, says John Halder, president of Community Colleges for International Development, a nonprofit association.  CCID is working to help establish Gori Community College in the nation of Georgia and helped start the Center for Vocational Education in Madras, which became Madras Community College.  In 2009, Indira Gandhi National Open University announced plans to set up 500 new community colleges by 2011.

Houston Community College is helping set up the Community College of Qatar.

Essentially, the community college has contracted with HCC to hire faculty and teach a HCC curriculum in Qatar. “The intent at the end of five years is to withdraw from that contract and they will then take over,” said Mary Spangler, HCC’s chancellor. In its first year, the Community College of Qatar will offer coursework in English as a Second Language and associate degree programs in math, science, computer science and business.

In the Middle East and North Africa, community colleges are setting up workforce programs, reports Community College Times.

Red Rocks Community College (Colorado), Al-Huson University College and Al-Balqa Applied University (Jordan) will work to expand Jordan’s green-collar workforce by establishing an associate degree program in solar energy technology.
Highline Community College (Washington) and Mataria Technical College (Egypt) will leverage the U.S. college’s  workforce development expertise to create educational pathways at the Egyptian college that will lead to skills jobs.
Gateway Technical College (Wisconsin) and Ecole Superieure de Technologie Oujda (Morocco) will focus on automotive diagnostics training.
Eastern Iowa Community College District and Muscatine Community College (Iowa) and Al Quds College (Jordan) will examine economic empowerment through entrepreneurship.

Community colleges are vital to economic recovery, writes Gene Budig, a College Board advisor,

Both China and India have noticed, with envy, the advancement of community colleges in the U.S., and they are responding with modified two-year replicas. They know what their economic engines will require, and two-year institutes and colleges are part of the mix.

Community colleges have the flexibility to provide training to meet workforce needs, said Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, at a forum on workforce development.