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“A fake diploma takes nothing more than a toll-free phone call”

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SCRIPT-NC continues to expand their new approach to early childhood educator prep… Be sure to check out Peter Hans’ remarks on for-profit colleges… We continue to lift up solution seekers across our state… JJ Evans and the Minority Male Success Initiative spotlighted… Enrollment down nationally...

Many folks I come into contact with are surprised to know that many early childhood educators are developed at community colleges. As we cover the entire educational continuum from birth to career, we are continuing to look at the work being done to train our next generation of educators at each stop along the continuum.

My colleague Liz Bell spotlights shifts in the approach to early childhood educator prep in her Early Bird newsletter this week. Bell shares, “SCRIPT-NC (Supporting Change and Reform in Pre-Service Teaching in North Carolina) has worked with seven community colleges across the state to strengthen their early childhood programs. Their aim is to better prepare early educators to teach children with diverse cultures, languages, and abilities. In the next year, they’ll work with five more colleges in some capacity.”

Part of the program includes reminding the prospective educators that children bring their whole experience and history into the classroom — even at a young age. 

Sharon Little, an instructor and head of the early childhood education program at South Piedmont Community College, told Bell, “So this is what you really thought about this population, or this is what you think is going on — not knowing that a child may be challenging because he doesn’t have any food or he didn’t get any sleep, or he’s afraid to go to sleep, or he had to sleep in a car overnight.”

A key function of the work is to better prepare the educators to work with all of the children who may come through the door of their classroom given that increasingly these children are coming from diverse backgrounds ranging from language to culture to ability.

As you read this email, my colleague Mebane Rash and I are at Montgomery Community College to see how they are adapting their short-term workforce development programs during a fall shaped by COVID-19. Follow us on Twitter @Awake58NC@Mebane_Rash, and @NationHahn for more. 

And be sure to check out our profile of Montgomery Community College from two years ago when we first visited all 58 community colleges. In the piece, Mebane explores how a small college serves a small community by finding their niche. 

North Carolinians join together to discuss the present and future of higher education work

Last week, we joined the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) for their latest ReCONNECT forum. The latest ReCONNECT focused on higher education, the future of work, and the way all of these issues intersect as the state works to make progress towards our attainment goal of 2 million 25-44 year-old North Carolinians with a high quality credential or degree by 2030.

The purpose of the gathering was to explore what is working — and what isn’t — through the prism of those actually grappling with the issues day in and day out.

The entire conversation was fascinating, but Peter Hans, president of the UNC system, delivered one moment that stood out when he took aim at for-profit higher ed programs: “When we make a real education hard to access, and a fake diploma takes nothing more than a toll-free phone call, we leave behind the very people who need us the most.”

We partnered with IEI and Drawing Insight to provide visual recordings from the virtual meeting and each breakout session:

Have you checked out Solution Seekers yet?

Over the past month, we have spotlighted various programs that are working collaboratively to bolster attainment in their region. Have you checked out the spotlights yet? What stories from your community might you lift up as we continue to explore solutions? Let us know.

→ College Lift: This piece examines a nonprofit in Winston-Salem that spun up as a reaction to data showing how challenging it is for a child in the region to have social mobility. This nonprofit, inspired by other programs, is now housed at Forsyth Tech. 

→ Northeast NC Career Pathways: The NENC Career Pathways is a partnership that spans 20 counties and many partners. They work to identify and connect people to programs and services that align with high-demand careers. The program facilitator said it best when it comes to the purpose of connecting folks to their options: “If you don’t know what’s there, you can’t know how to prepare for it.”

→ Regional Aligning Educational Efforts: Catawba Valley CC and Western Piedmont CC began to discuss how they might best collaborate to serve students and local industry several years ago. Those ideas have turned into pilot projects to increase alignment, and two more community colleges have since joined the effort.

→ Land of Sky Educational Attainment & Workforce Collaborative: The Land of Sky Regional Collaborative has served Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania Counties since 1966. After the release of the 2 million by 2030 statewide attainment goal, the Land of Sky Educational Attainment & Workforce Collaborative launched to support local efforts towards that goal.

Around NC

Demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) remains high as the pandemic continues. In recent weeks, Gaston College and Catawba Valley Community College have teamed up to lead a new innovative partnership to manufacture medical supplies locally — and landed some new investments. Be sure to check out our story on this partnership.

JJ Evans, the Associate Director of Student Life at NCCCS, was profiled for his work with the Minority Male Success Initiative. I loved this quote as he explains the importance of the program: “We’re targeting students that may need the most academic or personal assistance at the time. I think if we’ve done that, then our system advances in terms of how we view helping students. It’s not the student that needs to change. Sometimes it’s the institution and the practices that we have in place that we need to address.”

In the news: “ApprenticeshipNC has been selected by the U.S. Department of Labor to evaluate a new type of work-based training program.”

ICYMI, from our colleagues at the Belk Center: We are delighted to invite you to join us for our three-part Research-to-Practice webinar series on transfer students and equity. These hour-long discussions engage practitioners working with students in two- and four-year institutions with nationally recognized scholars studying transfer trends, with plenty of opportunity for participants to ask the panelists questions. 

1) Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2:00 pm EST – This webinar focuses on state and institutional policies that shape community college students’ ability to apply, afford and succeed in their transfer institutions.  Join us to get an inside view of evidence-based policy solutions from all over the US. Register for the webinar and submit questions for our panelists here.

2) Wednesday, October 14, 2:00 pm EST – In this second discussion, we’ll delve into the latest data in transfer trends nationwide, with an eye toward equity.  We’ll also hear the results of longitudinal research on transfer student perspectives and apply those insights to current practice. Register for this webinar and submit questions for our panelists here.  

3) Wednesday, October 21, 2:00 pm EST – This last webinar looks at course mobility and optimal transfer pathways for degree completion. Learn from the experiences of community college professionals as they adapt institutional policies and practices to build student success. Register for this webinar and submit questions for our panelist here.

Other higher education reads

  • Education Next takes a look at “The Rise of Dual Credit.” This is a true deep dive on the rise of dual credit/dual enrollment programs, analyzing some of the challenges facing the long-term success of the programs, and more. This passage stood out: “For dual credit to continue to grow, and thrive, states and schools will need to find ways to train more teachers, advocates say… They’ll also need to tackle the persistent racial, socioeconomic and geographic gaps that undermine the programs’ goals. Simply expanding the programs, without confronting the causes of those gaps, ‘could actually exacerbate them,’ warned John Fink, a senior research associate at the Community College Research Center.”
  • From Education Dive: “Latinx students’ biggest needs are funding, technology and emotional support, according to recent surveys and student affairs professionals.”

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the director of growth for EducationNC.