Reflections on Obama’s State of the Union 2013 Address

Here are my personal and informal reflections on President Obama’s State Of The Union address (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/13/us/politics/obamas-2013-state-of-the-union-address.html) with regards to its impact on community colleges.

Quote: “Our first priority is making America a magnet for new jobs and manufacturing.”

President Obama emphasizes the importance of the “made in America” approach as a strategy to boost our economy.  Manufacturing in the 21st century is increasingly high tech, even with regards to wood and metal production, for example new technologies like laser sintered 3-D printing that may revolutionize metal manufacturing processes. Community Colleges are the educational sector that primarily prepares technicians for the workplace.  Over the last several years we have seen both high schools and community colleges closing down their manufacturing degrees.  We should use this opportunity to redesign our manufacturing curriculum – think interdisciplinary with programs that help our students learn how to think and learn in this new “high tech” manufacturing context.

Quote: “After years of talking about it, we are finally poised to control our own energy future. … Last year, wind energy added nearly half of all new power capacity in America. So let’s generate even more. Solar energy gets cheaper by the year. … In the meantime, the natural gas boom has led to cleaner power and greater energy independence. … let’s cut in half the energy wasted by our homes and businesses over the next twenty years. The states with the best ideas to create jobs and lower energy bills by constructing more efficient buildings will receive federal support to help make it happen.”

Energy efficiencies, energy conservation, renewable energies are areas where community colleges can play a significant role in preparing the workforce.

Could we partner with the wind farms in Tehachapi, the Chambers of Commerce, the Kern Economic Development Agency etc, to not only provide the workforce for the renewable energy industry but to expand these activities as a key economic development strategy for the central valley?  Can we partner with PG&E and other utility companies to provide technicians who can help with retrofitting our built environments for energy efficiency?

Quote: “Tonight, I propose a ‘Fix-It-First’ program to put people to work as soon as possible on our most urgent repairs, like the nearly 70,000 structurally deficient bridges across the country. … Part of our rebuilding effort must also involve our housing sector, … and construction is expanding again.”

How does this impact our programs at BC in areas like construction, welding, apprenticeship etc?  We need to consider if our curriculum is current or even state-of-the art? Does the curriculum have principles of sustainability and green significantly embedded?  What would industry and educational partnerships in these areas entail?

Quote:  “Let’s also make sure that a high school diploma puts our kids on a path to a good job. … At schools like P-Tech in Brooklyn, a collaboration between New York Public Schools, the City University of New York, and IBM, students will graduate with a high school diploma and an associate degree in computers or engineering.   We need to give every American student opportunities like this. … Tonight, I’m announcing a new challenge to redesign America’s high schools so they better equip graduates for the demands of a high-tech economy. We’ll reward schools that develop new partnerships with colleges and employers, and create classes that focus on science, technology, engineering, and math – the skills today’s employers are looking for to fill jobs right now and in the future.”

BC should focus on renewing the tight collaborations we have had with high schools, with increased articulation agreements, increased dual enrollments, and increased concurrent enrollments.  We can start this process by focusing on our Delano community with the partnership of Delano High School and the Paramount Bard Academy (PBA). Currently the college is working with the Resnick Foundation to start a ninth grade cohort in Fall 2013 that will gain college credit through an agriculture program of study.  We should also focus on STEM work to do more articulation, summer camps, and programs like Project Lead the Way.

Quote: “Tonight, I ask Congress to change the Higher Education Act, so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive certain types of federal aid. And tomorrow, my Administration will release a new “College Scorecard” that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria: where you can get the most bang for your educational buck.”

Bakersfield College at this point utilizes the summative data provided in the District publication College In Review as its institutional score card.  This report does not appear to have much visibility or meaning to the work that we do at the departmental or program level.  I have started a conversation with the co-chair of Program Review, the President of the Academic Senate, the Executive Team at the College and the District researchers to start developing a meaningful research framework for the purpose of informing practice at the unit level, the program level and the institutional level.  This work is a 3-year initiative with an emphasis on the visual representation of data, as well as the usefulness for the practitioners, that includes the following strands: learning outcomes, perception data, progression and completion data, and operational data.

6 thoughts on “Reflections on Obama’s State of the Union 2013 Address

  1. Rick February 17, 2013 at 9:52 pm Reply

    Some thoughtful points. I especially resonate with your thoughts on joining with local businesses.

  2. Joseph Newton February 18, 2013 at 3:50 am Reply

    Sonia–this is just beautiful! I love the way ou see into the possibilities inherent in the vision the President laid out. I have to admit that m own view, as a rather ardent progressive was pretty focused on the areas where I have felt disappointment–specifics like the XL Pipeline, NDAA, drones, and other issues where he I have serious disagreements. I appreciate that you seek instead for the potentials to be found, and I really love the directions you are pointing for education, particularly the integration of sustainability in all the goals.

    We truly ar n a world of crisis, and much of what must happen to keep our biosphere viable must occur on a technological level. We must retool our entire energy infrastructure and sourcing, and do so as soon as possible. Having well-educated persons ready to do this work–and aware of its impact, will be critical to our planet’s capacity to sustain life.

    I will miss seeing you here in Eugene, but I am so happy that Bakersfield is blessed with or vision and positive leadership. I read with interest your description of the challenges it faces, and I believe the qualities you bring will be critical in seeing the college through them.

  3. Helen Acosta February 20, 2013 at 5:11 pm Reply

    Sonya,

    I’m so glad you’ve come back to BC! You mentioned Tehachapi in this post. I know a lot of people in Tehachapi and most wonder why we no longer offer courses at THS. Even the current TUSD Superintendent has asked why we no longer offer evening courses on their High School campus. We have so many faculty that live in the Greater Tehachapi Area that staffing courses would not be the an issue.

    Additionally, the Greater Tehachapi Area has the highest concentration of Engineers and Ph.Ds in Kern County… not to mention our only High School Robotics Team. We are just wasting all of the high tech resources that are flourishing right up there in them thar hills! You are so right when you say we need to build lasting connections in Tehachapi! However, I think we need to expand that vision to something much, much larger.

  4. Dinorah Castro February 20, 2013 at 9:09 pm Reply

    I believe BC’s collaboration with the local high schools is imperative to fullfilling some of these objectives (easier transition from high school to college, faster completion time for degree, faster output of technical professionals, etc.) and i’m encouraged to hear your support for dual enrollments and concurrent enrollments of high school students with BC. As a parent and educational professional this is very encouraging.

  5. Turner February 26, 2013 at 3:54 am Reply

    You state, “Manufacturing in the 21st century is increasingly high tech, even with regards to wood and metal production, for example new technologies like laser sintered 3-D printing that may revolutionize metal manufacturing processes. Community Colleges are the educational sector that primarily prepares technicians for the workplace. Over the last several years we have seen both high schools and community colleges closing down their manufacturing degrees. We should use this opportunity to redesign our manufacturing curriculum – think interdisciplinary with programs that help our students learn how to think and learn in this new “high tech” manufacturing context.”
    -But you are closing down or allowing programs to close down in your very school that accomplish these, “high tech, 21st century manufacturing processes.” The Woodworking Program taught by Professor Steve Hageman is one of these programs. The revolutionary class he instructs on Guitar Building encompasses multiple subjects, and opens students minds to the endless possibilities that one can accomplish. Even Bakersfield’s own Condors Hockey Team or their PR appreciated it so much that they had a guitar made by students auctioned off during one of their Hockey games. I was able to see the Guitar and it was a piece of Art, and Engineering genius. It is tragic, and disgusting that the rumor has spread that BC feels that the Wood-shop and Professor Hageman’s Branch of the Industrial Technology Dept does not fall far enough under your scope or goal for “preparing technicians for the workplace.” I took his class while attending Centennial High School, and it forever changed my life. My outlook on life and the world around me was forever changed by Professor Hageman’s Program. I learned to address each problem I came across by examining it from multiple angles, and multiple fields of thought. I understand that even now students that partake in his curriculum enter the real world with a frame of mind few achieve. I am for one grateful that I had a chance to have a educator like Steve Hageman, because there are not many of his caliber around anymore, if there are any at all.

  6. Carlos Barbaran March 22, 2013 at 2:14 pm Reply

    Hello Sonya
    Thank ,for your time you been give to our colleagues it will make a open communication ,please do not hesitate to ask me for any question or task need to be done and also I will collected some pictures for my voluntary work medical mission overs sea, have a great weekend

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