Community Colleges And The “Three Rs” of ReformApril 25, 2012
The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) has just released its report Reclaiming the American Dream. This is a bold document that calls for community colleges to transform their institutions to meet the demands of the 21st Century – demands that can be summarized just by understanding that by 2018, nearly two-thirds of all American jobs will require a postsecondary degree or certificate.
The report calls for Redesigning Students’ Educational Experiences; Reinventing Institutional Roles; and Resetting the System. These recommendations are the 3Rs, and in each category the report lays out a framework for change. Much of the work we do and envision for our own future is aligned with the report’s recommendations from improving college and career readiness to using data to drive change in teaching, learning, and institutional success.
Our community colleges are a national asset — unique in the world – and have contributed to our nation’s upward mobility and growth for decades. But today, the challenges that face our nation require reinventing this important educational “doorway.”
And, the report’s authors, The 21st-Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, did not sugar-coat the challenges that require new thinking and innovation. From improving student completion rates to aligning programs to employment opportunities, the report is grounded in what needs to be done to retain our nation’s prosperity and global competitiveness. So, this is not an academic exercise. It is a compelling “call to action” for everyone who cares about society, our economy, and our future.
In 1947, The Truman Commission Report (Higher Education for American Democracy) called for a network of public community colleges to open a pathway to higher education for all. Over the past 60+ years, our community colleges have much they can be proud of, Now their leaders can add to that list their willingness to embrace change so that more people can improve their lives, and the basic mission of the community colleges remains as critical today as it was six decades ago.
Now we all need to step-up and help turn the 3Rs into a 4th R – Reality. It will take collaboration, partnerships, and investment from all who care about the access and opportunity that community colleges offer to help achieve the vision for this century.
Here’s a link to the report: http://www.aacc.nche.edu/AboutCC/21stcenturyreport/index.html. This is a must read for everyone.