Since this is an election year, it is no surprise that hot button issues are being brought up more and more frequently by politicians. Educational reform is amongst the most commonly discussed topics by the president lately; it has been a major part of his political agenda since he ran for election in 2008. It should come as no surprise that Mr. Obama is proposing ideas that college-aged citizens will find appealing since that age group is the primary one that voted for him for his first term as president; he is no doubt looking for a repeat from that crowd to get him a second term in office. As reported by the NY Times, Obama unveiled even more plans that focus on education while he discussed parts of his new budget on Monday February 13, 2012 at an event hosted at the Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia.
The President has frequently brought up the importance of community colleges during speeches because he believes that these institutions are key to creating better access to education. He has plans to spend billions of dollars to revamp these learning facilities and he really seems to believe that the investment is well worth it. This may be surprising to most as there has commonly been a stigma around these localized schools as being the last pick when looking for a college. Most people feel as though attending such an institution will not earn them the credibility as going to a state school will. The truth is, one of these facilities can actually offer the student a better chance of earning their degree. They can be a convenient low cost alternative to attending state universities and Ivy League schools (much like the one Mr. Obama attended himself).
During his 2012 State of the Union Address, President Obama introduced this idea to the public for the first time. The plan is to get community colleges and local employers working together to determine the need of the job market in the area and this is an idea that closely mimics programs that are already in place throughout the city of Chicago. Ultimately, the goal would be to turn community colleges into local career centers where education would be geared towards the need of local business owners. This concept would make the process of earning a degree highly efficient since students will know exactly what is needed in the work force. The schools themselves would be able to offer guidance to their teachers about the curriculum that would develop the desirable skills. Students would receive career counseling that would direct them towards the right courses to enroll in that are relevant to their future employment prospects.
The Career Fund
At the center of President Obama’s new plan to get people back work is an $8 billion Community College to Career Fund. This money will be used to train two million US residents to have the necessary skills they would need to work in good paying in demand jobs. The proposal would need approval by Congress and the funds would be distributed by the department of labor and the department of education. These newly availing resources are intended to go towards the funding of job training programs that are based in community colleges. They would offer future workers a way to learn a skill and earn needed certification in order to gain a job in high growth sectors. This plan would also allow the school to give credits to students in work based programs offered to low income pupils so they can earn their degrees quickly while working.