October 8, 2015 - OCTAE Connection - Issue 239

OCTAE Newsletter

October 9, 2015

Condolences to Umpqua Community College and North Seattle College

We at OCTAE know that you share our sense of grief at the loss of lives due to the shootings at Umpqua Community College last week and to the tragic traffic accident involving students at North Seattle College the week before that. We join you in extending our deepest sympathies for the victims and their families. At the same time we have in our thoughts both college communities — the campus leaders, trustees, students, faculty, staff, administrators and all those working to ensure the well-being of the two communities. 

First Lady Michelle Obama Visits Howard Community College

On Thursday, Sept. 17, as part of her Reach Higher Initiative, first lady Michelle Obama visited Howard Community College to encourage students from Howard County High School to take advantage of education beyond high school. Reach Higher is a broad-based effort to promote postsecondary education by making students aware of the multiple opportunities available to them, advocating for college affordability, encouraging academic planning, and supporting the work of counselors and mentors in guiding students toward their best college options.  

Regarding postsecondary education, Obama told the students, “It’s the best investment in your future.” She explained that high school graduates have a variety of options for continuing their education and should carefully consider community college as an alternative to pursuing a four-year degree. Said Obama, “When we talk about college, lots of times, people think four-year universities and that’s not often the right path for many students.” The first lady emphasized that “we’re fortunate enough to live in a country where we have so many options,” and that “Community colleges provide a clear and affordable pathway for kids who think college is unaffordable.” Addressing a question about how to make the best postsecondary education choices, Obama responded, “I would encourage you to look at your options. Take a tour, and meet with alumni, professors, and students … You can even take a virtual tour. In the end, ask yourself, what do you feel here,” she said, pointing to her heart.

Howard County Students

Howard Community College students, in the Cardiovascular Technology Program, demonstrate simulated patient and diagnostic imaging equipment that assists with heart catheterization procedures to the first lady and Howard County High School students.

Community colleges offer students a variety of distinct advantages and opportunities. One such bonus is that their average cost is lower than at four-year and for-profit institutions. According to a recent study by the College Board, for the 2014–15 academic year, the average tuition for an in-district student attending a public, two-year community college was $3,347, as compared with $9,139 for an in-state student attending a public four-year college or university. For out-of-state students, the average tuition at four-year state colleges and universities was $22,958. Tuition at private four-year colleges and universities averaged $31,231, while tuition at for-profit institutions averaged $15,230. 

Community colleges can offer more program options for students than the typical four-year college or university. They offer certificate and two-year degree programs directly preparing students for employment, as well as transfer programs leading to a four-year degree. For some students, this is a particular advantage. James Rosenbaum, Northwestern University education researcher (see http://www.ipr.northwestern.edu/faculty-experts/fellows/rosenbaum.html), among others, maintains that students unsure about their future aspirations may gain substantial benefits by earning a certificate or a two-year degree at a community college, even if they plan on later pursuing a four-year degree. This, according to Rosenbaum, is a particularly valuable option for students who are unsure about the discipline in which they want to major, including those students who declare a major only to change it at a later date, or who foresee possible difficulties in being able to complete a four-year degree.  

For information about occupations that typically require a certificate or two-year degree, visit the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ website, especially the Occupational Outlook Handbook.

For more coverage of the First Lady’s visit to Howard Community College, click here.  

Department of Labor Announces New Job Corps Request for Proposal

The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration recently issued a Request for Proposal (RFP), for a new pilot Job Corps program—the Cascades Job Corps College and Career Academy. According to the announcement, the academy will be responsible for training high school dropouts and unemployed youths for careers, as well as assisting them in obtaining high school equivalency certificates or high school diplomas. The awarded contractor will be responsible for operating the pilot residential Job Corps career-pathway program that will consist of “connected academic and career training that enables students between the ages of 16 and 21 years old at entry to complete industry-recognized credentials, secure a job, and/or advance to higher levels of education and employment.”  The program includes the “provision of academic, technical, and non-cognitive skills and related support services for an estimated total of 150 residential male students and 150 residential female students.” The contractor will provide housing as well as the full complement of services for all students.

It should be noted that this new pilot, according to the RFP, will not serve as a “transition from or continuation of the traditional Job Corps program currently operated at the site” but instead will be “a new center start-up.” 

Under the new contract, as specified in the RFP, the contractor’s duties will be as follows:

  • “Design the program and curricula based on prescribed components.
  • Propose career technical training offerings within the Health Care and Information Technology industry sectors.
  • Hire/train or subcontract for qualified personnel.
  • Collaborate/cooperate with the National Office of Job Corps for facility renovation to accommodate the pilot program design.”

The awarded contractor will also be responsible for developing a “student build-up plan and schedule.”

The new contract, as detailed in the release, will have a two-year base period, running from Feb. 1, 2016, through Jan. 31, 2018, in addition to three governmental unilateral renewal options for one year each. This is an unrestricted procurement.

All written proposal submissions are due no later than Nov. 16, 2015, at 4:30 p.m. PST to the address provided in the RFP. 

All interested parties should review the full Request for Proposal for more information, including the pre-proposal conference and site visit, scheduled for Oct. 16, 2015, at 9:30 30 a.m. local time, at the current Cascades Job Corps Center, in Sedro Woolley, WA.