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Awake58: From community college to NASA. And a way forward on the state budget?

This is a copy of the Awake58 newsletter originally sent on Tuesday, August 27th, 2019. Click here to subscribe

From community college to NASA. And a way forward on the state budget?

Marking one year of Awake58… the state budget may move forward in a different way… new Nash and Roanoke-Chowan presidents spotlighted… A-B Tech secured additional funding eliminating their deficit…

We have a state budget update, of sorts, for you. 

Alex Granados shared the following details in his Grumblings & Rumblings column:

“At a meeting of the North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents in Wilmington, presidents were briefed on the plan presented by House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, last week to start moving pay raise bills through his chamber this week. The Senate has started to pull some budget items and move them as standalone bills. While it’s not 100% clear what this all means, it’s possible a mini budget bill on the community college budget priorities — which are relatively non-controversial — will surface in the coming days.”

Last week, we asked you about your concerns around the budget. One common theme that emerged was around faculty pay — particularly as it relates to community college faculty not being considered state employees. Expect content from us exploring this issue this fall. Thank you for writing!

Early Bird just launched Early Bird, a newsletter focused on early childhood education, curated by my colleague Liz Bell. We will cover many issues, including the role community colleges play in preparing early childhood educators.

Liz explains the role of Early Bird in a recent piece, “Early Bird is for those who care most about our state’s youngest learners — parents, educators, and policymakers. I want to bring you information that is useful in your lives and in the lives of children. Most of all, I want to keep learning from and telling stories of teachers, students, families, and communities.”

One year ago this week

One year ago this week, we sent you all the first Awake58 newsletter. Our team spent that week traveling to each community college. We documented your stories, identified issues you care about, and set the course for our work over the past year. Next week, we will mark one year of covering our community colleges through a video, a series of stories exploring the issues that will help define the year ahead, and more. Please reply directly to this email with your thoughts and ideas for issues we ought to explore, or if you have a story to share.

I will be heading to Gaston College this week. Follow along on Twitter and Instagram. I am beginning to map out my own travel for the months ahead, so if you have any events that we should know about let me know. Also, we are always looking for stories worth telling, so let me know if you have something we ought to document! 

I’ll see you out on the road,


EdNC Reads

A way ahead on the budget?

“The community college system had a host of priorities this budget season and received much of what it asked for in the budget passed by the legislature. But that was all put on hold after Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper vetoed the bill because of his concerns about other items in the spending package. The House has held off on holding a veto override as it tries to get enough Democrats to swing the vote. Thus far, that hasn’t happened. Passing individual bills on portions of the budget could be a possible workaround.”

Bright Spots update: Alamance Career Accelerator Program signs 10 new apprentices

Earlier this year, we spotlighted the Alamance Career Accelerator Program (CAP) as part of our Bright Spots series. CAP celebrated their new class in a signing ceremony last week. High school students, along with their parents and industry partners, signed formal agreements kicking off their four-year apprenticeships.

From community college to NASA

Isaac Mayle is in his final year of the associate in engineering program at Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, but he didn’t realize the possibility of going from community college to a job with NASA until he heard an interview with astronaut Drew Feustel. Yasmin Bendaas has the story on Isaac’s realization that his career trajectory could end at NASA.

Perspective from Peter Hans | Community college ad campaign seeks to boost NC workforce

“Despite a long tradition of excellence in higher education, North Carolina is in the middle of the pack among the states when it comes to educational attainment. Right now, we have 1.3 million adults who have a college degree or a workforce credential. That’s not enough to fill the types of jobs we have today, much less those that will be created tomorrow.”

Perspective | Finish Line Grant helps community college students 

Vida Marie Otero was closing in on her degree at Central Carolina Community College when she lost her job. The Finish Line Grant program provided her with the financial assistance she needed to finish the final months of her degree.

Other reads

Which NC community college degree program graduates have the highest average wages after five years? A look at the data.

Carolina Demography has launched a new series spotlighting degree programs and credentials and their connection to salary. Their introductory piece explains: “One of many decisions that students transitioning from high school to postsecondary education are faced with is what program of study and credential to pursue. This can be challenging, since students are often not aware of the opportunities and salary potential associated with different careers.”

To help first-generation students succeed, colleges enlist their parents

Hechinger Report spotlights efforts to help first-gen college students succeed, including several programs that focus on parental involvement in hopes of providing stronger supports for first-gen students. Hechinger notes the stakes are high: “According to one study, a third of first-generation college students drop out within three years.”

The growing partisan divide in views of higher education

Pew Research Center is out with a new survey documenting American’s views on the role of higher education. I’m curious to know what you think of this particular finding: “A new Pew Research Center survey finds that only half of American adults think colleges and universities are having a positive effect on the way things are going in the country these days. About four-in-ten (38%) say they are having a negative impact – up from 26% in 2012.”

Around North Carolina

County gives additional funding to A-B Tech, eliminates college’s deficit

An update on the story we shared last week regarding A-B Tech’s budget and county support: “Buncombe County will provide an additional $300,000 in funding to A-B Tech, eliminating the college’s deficit and avoiding the possibility of layoffs to balance the budget.”

Nash Community College names new president

“Nash Community College… announced Lew Kyle Hunnicutt as its fifth president. The State Board of Community Colleges has approved the appointment. Hunnicutt is currently the assistant provost and campus director for the University of Georgia – Griffin Campus, which serves more than 32,000 students annually…”

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Nation Hahn

Nation Hahn is the chief of growth for EducationNC.