Income tax proposal could hurt community colleges

Capital News Service
LANSING — Things were different in the 20th century. Back then, there were all sorts of trade jobs available to high school graduates who just needed some extra training, and those careers were especially abundant in the thriving Michigan manufacturing sector. Finish up school, learn the craft and trickle into the workforce -– that was the course for a happy middle-class existence. But, for most people, it isn’t like that anymore. “Michigan’s still a very heavily manufacturing-based economy.

Business groups, community colleges push to expand job training

Capital News Service
LANSING – Business groups and community colleges are pushing to expand a statewide new job training program. Community colleges run the program for employers that create new jobs. It gives the new employees free training. It is paid for by capturing the state income tax revenue of the newly hired employees for the first year. After that, those revenues revert to the state, said Mike Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association.

Grant could offer a second chance to finish community college

Capital News Service
LANSING — People who never got the chance to finish their degree just might if a proposal in Gov. Rick Snyder’s budget to renew funding for an education grant is approved. The Independent Part-Time Student Grant was discontinued in 2009 during a budget crisis. But the governor’s $6 million proposal to revive the grant could mean a big difference for students who never finished their community college degree. “There’s a significant number of these people, they start and for whatever reason, don’t finish with a degree,” said Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association. “Maybe because you ran out of money, because life things got in the way.”

Michigan has 28 community colleges.

If bachelors degree elusive, associate degree is fallback

Capital News Service
LANSING – A new agreement between Grand Valley State University and Kalamazoo Valley Community College will make it easier for four-year students to obtain an associate degree. Reverse transfer allows students who do not complete a four-year degree to receive an associate degree for their completed credits at local institutions. “There is such high value in a student having an associate degree,” said Olin Joynton, president of Alpena Community College. “When a student transfers to a four-year university and is not able to complete that degree, reverse transfer allows them evidence of completion of a degree.”
Alpena currently has agreements with Ferris State University, Lake Superior State University and others. Many students start at community colleges and transfer to four-year universities without receiving their associate degree, according to Michael Hansen, president of the Michigan Community College Association.

Veterans would get break in community college tuition

Capital News Service
LANSING – A constitutional amendment that would give all service members and veterans in-district community college tuition regardless of where they live could be on the ballot in 2014. With thousands of returning service members from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, many are accessing educational benefits from the federal government. The state constitutional amendment would provide returning veterans with more affordable college options, according to a legislative analysis. But opponents say the amendment would hurt colleges by reducing tuition that comes from the federal government not students. According to the College Board, the average tuition rate nationally in 2013 for a two-year institution is $3,131.

Community colleges seek ways to better prepare students

Capital News Service
LANSING – Almost half of students entering community college find themselves unprepared, according to a new Government Accountability Office (GAO) report, and new strategies are being formed to better equip students for success. Forty-two percent of students were not ready for the regular courses, said GAO, an investigatory arm of Congress. As a result, they were required to take developmental classes. There are multiple ways to test college readiness, said Mike Hansen, president of Michigan Community College Association. Typically the ACT test is used to measure knowledge, and many community colleges are finding a large majority of their students are not “college ready” in most subject areas, he said.

Community colleges vie for 'pathways' grants

Capital News Service
LANSING – Grand Rapids Community College hopes to be awarded a grant to improve career pathways for adult learners through counseling before and after enrollment. “This grant will help us fill some gaps we have in programs and help us possibly make some previous work experience transfer into credit,” said George Waite, director of employee training at the college. The Pathways to Credentials grant would be administered by the Michigan Community College Association’s Center for Student Success and funded by the Kresge Foundation. Grants of $75,000 over the next two years will go to six community colleges based on their written proposals, said Chris Baldwin, the center director. “Community colleges will be able to fund programs that they previously did not have funds for, and this will help bridge the gap of college-educated people in the workforce,” Baldwin said.

Community colleges, manufacturers team up to fill middle-skill jobs

Capital News Service
LANSING– With the state’s manufacturing industry facing a talent crisis, the Michigan Manufacturers Association and the Michigan Community College Association are collaborating to meet the demand for middle-skill workers. As technology advances, a lot of jobs require people with the right skills, said Delaney McKinley, director of human resource policy for the Manufacturers Association. And the shortage could get worse as the workforce ages and skilled workers retire, according to the association. About 20 percent of Michigan’s manufacturing workforce is older than age 55, according to the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan in Detroit. Middle skill jobs, as defined by McKinley, require a level of skills somewhere between those that “need people who are engineers or highly educated” and those that “don’t require training necessarily.”
Industry is looking for people to fill jobs such as production technicians, computer numerical control machinists and welders, McKinley said.

Community colleges work to facilitate developmental education

Capital News Service
LANSING – About 60 percent of students who show up at a community college need at least one developmental course in math, English or reading, according to Michigan Community College Association President Michael Hansen.
Hansen said, “A large percentage of those students – if they make it out of their developmental education sequence – their chances for actually completing a degree are much lower than the students that don’t get placed in.”
And Jenny Schanker, associate director of the Michigan Center for Student Success, said a strategy community colleges are using to alleviate that problem is communication with their K-12 partners. Schanker said there are two sets of people who need developmental courses – traditional students, 24 and younger, who didn’t do well and scored low on the ACT and placement tests coming into college, and adults, 25 and older, who have been out of college for some time. Many in the second category are displaced workers who come back to be retrained for a new career but may not have finished high school. One major initiative community colleges are engaged in is Achieving the Dream, a national effort to increase student success. Schanker said 17 Michigan schools have joined, including Macomb, Oakland, Montcalm, Jackson and Grand Rapids community colleges.

LCC concerned about education

Erica Zazo
Old Town Lansing Times Staff Writer

LANSING, MI- Lansing Community College students, faculty and administrators feel left in the dark during the presidential debates with regards to education policy. With two of three presidential debates completed, the LCC community thinks candidates should focus more on education policy. “I would like to hear them talk about education in community colleges, and how that will help with economic recovery,” said Todd Heywood, candidate running for an LCC Board of Trustee position. Matt Bedard, president of the LCC Republican Club said education is the bedrock of our nations future, and the current system is in need of dire reform. “Education seems to be the one thing that everyone can agree on, at least partially,” Bedard said.