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.