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* Obama, enrollment and the economy, oh, my

While President Barack Obama is putting community colleges in the national spotlight, there’s plenty happening at the state level with historic-level enrollments and fresh economic news.

 

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said Monday that President Obama will travel to Macomb Community College in Warren, Mich., today (Tuesday, July 14) to lay out a plan for community colleges to play a bigger role in creating a more educated workforce, according to a report for the Detroit News.Gibbs said the speech will elaborate on the president's joint address to Congress in which he highlighted "the need for continued education beyond high school."

 

"Many of the jobs that we're going to create in the future ... are going to require some post-high school graduation," Gibbs said. "So one of the things that he'll discuss … is a plan to see more fruition as it relates to our community colleges."

 

The News report said Obama will outline a policy specific to how community colleges can meet the economic demand for preparing workers for jobs. Obama is expected to make his remarks in the late morning, PDT.

 

And, in the Sunday, July 12, Washington Post, Obama wrote an op-ed, noting the important role of community colleges in rebuilding the economy. Obama wrote:

 

 “We believe it's time to reform our community colleges so that they provide Americans of all ages a chance to learn the skills and knowledge necessary to compete for the jobs of the future.  Our community colleges can serve as 21st-century job training centers, working with local businesses to help workers learn the skills they need to fill the jobs of the future.  We can reallocate funding to help them modernize their facilities, increase the quality of online courses and ultimately meet the goal of graduating 5 million more Americans from community colleges by 2020.”

 

A news release Monday from the national Association of Community College Trustees said that ACCT has been actively involved in discussing the various parts of the proposal with the Administration for several weeks now.

 

At the state level, the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges released numbers for this past school year that show students clearly already know where to go for education and job-skills training.

 

According to the report, state-supported enrollments for 2008-09 grew by 8.5 percent and reached the highest level in history as the colleges readily exceeded their legislative target.

 

These historic enrollment levels follow on the heels of the largest high school graduating class in the state’s history, an increasingly uncertain and worsening economic climate and belt-tightening in the face of looming budget cuts - all of which will continue into 2009-10.

 

Course enrollments grew substantially in all areas. Worker Retraining FTES increased by 36 percent in response to rising unemployment. Online, or eLearning, continued its phenominal popularity, growing by 25 percent and contributing to 43 percent of state enrollment growth, according to the SBCTC report.

 

For Shoreline, the state’s numbers show a 6 percent gain in academic enrollment and a 24 percent increase in the number of students taking basic skills classes. Overall, Shoreline hit 100 percent of the state-mandated enrollment targets for full-time equivalent students.

 

“It’s great to see Shoreline at that level and just continuing to grow,” SCC President Lee Lambert said. “We’re doing it despite the state budget cuts, which is a testament to the people we have here at SCC.”

 

The latest state economic forecast numbers were also released Monday, presenting a mixed bag of indicators. According to the report, “We continue to believe that the recession will bottom out by the third quarter of this year, followed by a slow U-shaped recovery. There is a considerable amount of stimulus in the pipeline that has yet to work its way through the system and many of the

“green shoots” we noticed in the spring remain green.”

 

Earlier, Gov. Chris Gregoire, the Office of Financial Management and the SBCTC have asked for an additional 2 percent cut to approved state spending.

 

At Shoreline, the President’s Senior Executive Team (PSET) met Monday, July 13, 2009. Vice President for Administrative Services Daryl Campbell said there are a number of ways to make Shoreline’s share of the new cut, $229,542, and that he and the other vice presidents would meet in the next week to review options. Those options would be further discussed at PSET.

 

“We did a good job at Shoreline of anticipating possible cuts and being ready with options,” Lambert said. “We’ll continue to look ahead.”

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