The youth agenda

American populism is back, evidenced by the midterm tour-de-force of voters concerned with unemployment and government spending.  While these voters mostly backed extremely conservative candidates, both Democrats and Republicans tried winning them over by claiming to be the party of ‘the people.’  True stewards of the economic justice, however, would do well to take a serious look at the plight of young people and how substantial investments in opportunities for youth success can save our nation’s prosperity both now and for decades to come.  There are several pieces of the youth agenda that Congress can pass in the next few weeks and in the 112th Congress that uplift the underrepresented communities that saved Democrats’ seats and maintain the fiscal responsibility championed by Republicans.


Career colleges are the path for many to achieve their dreams

Now a successful chef and business owner, I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for my career college education.  I am deeply concerned that Washington policy makers currently attacking career colleges fail to understand that limiting the educational options available to those who oftentimes come from modest backgrounds will only serve to punish those they claim to want to assist.    

Education is the foundation required to achieve success in today’s world.  But no one specific system of post-secondary education will ever have the wherewithal to accommodate everyone’s educational needs, which means there must be a wide choice of systems.


It's time to step up when it comes to preparing our K-16 students (Rep. Michael Honda and Dana Ditmore)

The United States is increasingly losing its competitive edge when it comes to preparing our K-16 students in critical subjects like science, technology, engineering and math.  In these subject areas, our students consistently rank near the bottom in educational achievement among the world's 30 richest nations.  While we know that teacher quality is the most important factor in improving students' academic performance, many teachers are not adequately schooled in the subjects they are teaching.  In our Santa Clara County, for example, one-third of our high-school math and science teachers are under-prepared, out-of-subject, or novice teachers.  We must turn this tide if we are to keep Silicon Valley as the center of technological advancement and keep America as a leader in science and engineering innovation.


When for-profits target low-income students

Low-income students graduate at very low rates, and with few or no viable employment options. The current policy debate over federal regulation of for-profit higher-education institutions has generated a lot of heat, but very little light.


Higher education: Not a one size fits all solution

To meet his ambitious goal of sending five million more Americans to college over the next 10 years, President Obama has perhaps unrealistically pinned his hopes on the nation’s community colleges. That’s why next week you will see community colleges gathering for a first-ever summit at the White House, where they will collect $2 billion in commitments from the administration and Congress.


Union-district collaboration earns national attention

Fueled by major magazines, filmmakers and network specials, playing the blame game has become the new sport among education reformers. When did teachers become the boogeyman for the myriad challenges facing public schools? Regrettably, this approach falls short of the constructive dialogue we need in public education today.


Pulling back the curtain on community colleges

In light of today’s White House’s Community College Summit, let’s take a closer look at how community colleges are really doing, particularly in comparison to much-maligned career colleges:


Unacceptable loss of two young lives (Secretary of Education Arne Duncan)

This week, we sadly lost two young men who took their own lives for one unacceptable reason: they were being bullied and harassed because they were openly gay or believed to be gay. These unnecessary tragedies come on the heels of at least three other young people taking their own lives because the trauma of being bullied and harassed for their actual or perceived sexual orientation was too much to bear.


Make higher education available to 100 percent of Americans

This week’s upcoming first-ever White House Summit on Community Colleges is all about the lives and future of America’s students. During my years as a community college president and chancellor, I always asked my professional colleagues the same simple question whenever we faced a difficult challenge or issue: what is the best way to help students succeed?