OVAE Connection Issue 175 - November 27, 2013

OVAE Connection

                                                OVAE Connection - Issue 175 - November 27, 2013

OVAE Connection Community College Section

OVAE Welcomes Mark Mitsui

Mark Mitsui

OVAE recently welcomed Mark Mitsui as the new deputy assistant secretary for community colleges He most recently served as the president of North Seattle Community College (NSCC). Prior to that, Mitsui served as vice president of student services for South Seattle Community College, assistant dean at Green River Community College (Wash.), director of student success and retention services at NSCC and as a tenured faculty member at Renton Technical College (Wash.). He worked on the statewide task force to review and redesign the performance funding system in Washington’s community and technical colleges, including developing the student success metrics. Performance funding systems are based on a formula to tie funding to institutional performance on indicators of student outcomes. He oversaw the completion of a new one-stop opportunity center that brought together three state agencies to provide integrated federal, state, and private funding streams and services that could move low income residents out of poverty through education. Mitsui has also worked with a variety of industry-higher education consortia to address skills gaps in high demand sectors. He is committed to serving underrepresented, under-served communities and has led strategic student success efforts to accomplish that. These include initiatives to help both South Seattle and North Seattle community colleges become minority-serving institutions. Mitsui is excited to be working with his new colleagues in OVAE and at the U.S. Department of Education.

NSF Releases New Grant Program to Improve Undergraduate STEM Education, Encourages Community College Participation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) recently released a new grant program description, Improving Undergraduate STEM Education, and strongly encourages community colleges to submit proposals for it. Program officers in its Division of Undergraduate Education, included along with the description, are available to answer any questions from interested individuals.

Achieving Equality in U.S. Public Schools

Earlier this year, Reversing the Rising Tide of Inequality: Achieving Educational Equity for Each and Every Child was released by the Leadership Conference Education Fund to reinvigorate efforts to “achieve both quality and fairness in our nation’s public education system.” According to the Leadership Conference, over the nearly six decades since the Brown v. Board of Education (1954) decision the gains made to address significant inequalities in the public education system have been severely insufficient. The result is continued and unacceptably high race- and class-based achievement gaps as well as funding that serves privileged communities more than the neediest students. Because of these disparities, in part, the United States is confronted with a widening gap between its rich and the poor populations. Along with staggeringly high poverty and unemployment among the least educated.

After reviewing the record of the legal attempts to address this inequity, a record the Leadership Conference characterizes as “mixed,” the authors focus on the report of The Equity and Excellence Commission, appointed by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2012 to promote equity in education. As viewed by the Leadership Conference, the commission’s report, For Each and Every Child: A Strategy for Education Equity and Excellence  (2013), identifies an “urgent national problem.” Among the most important contributions of the commission is its “stark and bold documentation” of the significant inequities in American education that persist today with gaps in achievement between white students and certain minority students (African-American and Hispanic students) that are “wide and pervasive.” The commission maintains that the cause of these gaps is an American education system that is more and more segregated by wealth, income, and, on top of that, race.

The Leadership Conference’s report then focuses on the Equity and Excellence Commission’s five-part agenda “to … take care of unfinished business once and for all” by actions and new tools that have the potential to eliminate the inequities: (1) improve school finance and efficiency; (2) strengthen leadership, teaching, and curriculum for all students; (3) provide access to high-quality early childhood education for all low-income children; (4) meet the needs of students in high-poverty communities; and (5) link the improvement of governance and accountability with the equity and excellence agenda.

The report recommends following this agenda to “build on the base established by the Common Core State Standards to craft a civil and human rights solution” that will ensure the promise of the Equity and Excellence Commission’s report is met.

LINCS Discussion: The Potential and Use of Digital Badges

On Dec. 3–9, 2013, the LINCS Community, an interactive online social learning space for adult educators, will provide an online public discussion through the Technology and Learning Community of the newly released draft report The Potential and Value of Using Digital Badges for Adult Learners. The report was written by Jonathan Finkelstein at Credly, Erin Knight at Mozilla Foundation, and Susan Manning at the University of Wisconsin, under contract to the American Institutes of Research and with funding from OVAE. Please join the discussion or go to the LINCS site for more information.