I am not a big left versus right person, but I am so glad today that President Obama announced that he is proposing making community colleges free for the first two years. Why is this a big deal? You see, community colleges provide training for hard skilled jobs. These jobs, unlike soft skilled jobs (customer service, administrative, etc.), are jobs of the future. They can’t be outsourced or eliminated because of technology, but will grow and evolve along side technology.
What many fail to realize is that community colleges are incubators of the future, where we train an incredibly creative class of highly skilled people. The great thing about community colleges is that you can learn technical skills without the fluff most four-year public and private institutions offer and without the burden of student loan debt.
I love this country, but the direction we are going in with our workforce, and specifically African-Americans is incredibly scary. Here is why:
- “Have you noticed that many of the programs and social safety nets that have disproportionately affected African-Americans are being eliminated? Why? In order to compete with third world countries that offer cheap labor, we need a cheap and unskilled workforce. The growing underclass fills that void. Because of rising costs and a reduction in tax base (a loss in property tax revenue due to high unemployment, reduced homeownership and migration out of cities) city, state and federal agencies are finding it much more financially viable to simply eliminate these programs that help poor people.” Read: The Rise of The Permanent African American Underclass PT1
- “The truth is in this new economy if you lack the education and skills needed you can’t compete. I’ve seen retail associates job postings where employers required applicants to have a degree. A degree! Think about it like this, if you can’t pay for post-secondary education, you can’t develop a skill. If you don’t have a skill employers won’t hire you and you will remain poor. That is the cycle of poverty.” Read: The Rise of The Permanent African American Underclass PT2: How to Avoid it
- “The wealth gap between Blacks and Whites in America has been suggested by NYU Economist Edward Wolff to be a 68 fold difference (6700%). Pew Research Center’s December 2014 review of FRB data shows median household wealth disparity between Whites and Hispanic households is 10X (900%) difference and between Whites and Blacks is 13X (1200%) difference.” Read: The 3 most common recommendations that won’t close the wealth gap.
Because of the changing demographics, in order for our nation to compete, we must have a highly skilled and educated workforce. That skilled workforce must include African-Americans. Education should not be a luxury just for those who can afford it. Offering free community college to all Americans is a huge start. I cannot wait until it happens. Watch President Obama’s announcement below.
Requirements for the program:
What students have to do: Students must attend community college at least half-time, maintain a 2.5 GPA, and make steady progress toward completing their program.
What community colleges have to do: Community colleges will be expected to offer programs that are either 1) academic programs that fully transfer credits to local public four-year colleges and universities, or 2) occupational training programs with high graduation rates and lead to in-demand degrees and certificates. Community colleges must also adopt promising and evidence-based institutional reforms to improve student outcomes.
What the federal government has to do: Federal funding will cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college. Participating states will be expected to contribute the remaining funds necessary to eliminate the tuition for eligible students.
Read the rest at WhiteHouse.gov
Let’s talk about it at the forum exclusively for Black women. Join the conversation here.
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