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President Biden and first lady Dr. Jill Biden visit Nash Community College and talk career-centered education

A note from us

Hi, Emily here with this week’s edition of Awake58. If you missed last week’s newsletter, you may find it by clicking here. 

The Biden administration visited Nash Community College… More podcast episodes from EdNC’s The Power of Papertown… A look at Career and College Promise at Piedmont Community College… Perspectives on middle school career exploration and how to expand N.C.’s Career and College Promise program… The lawmakers working on a final budget proposal… A fundraiser for one community college president raises student scholarship funds…

This week’s edition is filled with content, including a look at President Joe Biden’s recent visit to Nash Community College, where he and first lady Dr. Jill Biden discussed the value of a career-centered education and how community colleges are training individuals for careers in growing industries. 

The first lady opened the visit by talking about the various postsecondary paths students can take after high school graduation. She said most people define postsecondary success by one thing: getting a four-year degree. But, she said, that path isn’t for everyone, and it also is not the only path for success. 

She went on to discuss ways that students can forge their postsecondary paths, mentioning those who complete college courses in high school. She noted how those opportunities, along with apprenticeships, can help students navigate their educational journeys.

EdNC’s Alessandra Quattarochi has an in-depth look at Career and College Promise at Piedmont Community College. We’ve also included two perspectives this week. The first, by Tom Swiderski, a postdoctoral researcher, explores how to expand NC’s Career and College Promise program. And in the second, Cape Fear Community College President Jim Morton highlights career exploration for middle schoolers.

We’ve also got more episodes from The Power of Papertown – providing a look at the closure of Canton’s paper mill that has employed community residents for over a century. 

Last month, EdNC published an article about the student scholarship fundraiser in honor of Davidson-Davie Community College’s President, Dr. Darrin Hartness. Hartness was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last year. The student scholarship fundraiser raised $35,800. 

Hannah McClellan also wrote about the final compromise budget proposal and the lawmakers working on it in this piece. 

If you read last week’s edition, I attended the Early College Summit hosted by RTI International. Be on the lookout for a conference recap in next week’s Awake58.  

What’s happening on your college’s campus? Send us your stories and press releases. You can reply directly to this email or send a note to [email protected] or [email protected]

That’s all for now.

Emily Thomas – Policy Analyst 

EdNC reads

Biden administration visits Nash Community College to discuss career-centered education

Nash Community College welcomed the Biden Administration to campus last week. President Joe Biden and first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, discussed the importance of career-centered education.

The visit was part of the Investing in America tour.

President Biden emphasized how for years community colleges were known as one of America’s best kept secrets.

But this best kept secret isn’t being kept secret anymore, he said. Throughout his speech, the president painted a picture of manufacturing and industry through the years, saying, “Too many good manufacturing jobs were moved overseas.”

But now, those jobs are coming back, he said.

The president went on to discuss the jobs that are being created and the training that is taking place right here in North Carolina, including VinFast and Wolfspeed.

“You can’t have advanced manufacturing without a highly trained workforce,” Biden said. “They don’t go together.”

You can read more about the visit here.

How Piedmont Community College’s CCP program makes a difference

Last fall, EdNC visited all 58 community colleges over the span of four months. We called the campaign Impact58, as it was an opportunity for us to learn more about the impact of our state’s community colleges.

During these visits, we spoke to faculty, staff, and students about the impact Career and College Promise (CCP) has had on their lives and communities.

One of the many champions of CCP that EdNC encountered during our statewide travels in the fall was Leia Rollins, the coordinator for college high school programs at Piedmont Community College (PCC).

“I want policymakers to see what CCP has done for all of my students — from a student taking one class to a student who got their degree,” she told EdNC.

We invited her to do just that by encouraging her to document her work and the impact CCP has on students on her Twitter account. She has been doing so for the past several months, resulting in a virtual archive of student stories that makes the case for supporting CCP programs across the state.

You can read Rollin’s reflections here.

The Power of Papertown Episodes

EdNC has more episodes from our in-house production, the Power of Papertown. The most current episodes are linked below.

Episode 2: Resiliency in Bouncing Back

Episode 3: The Ties That Bind

Episode 4: Goods from the Woods

Click here to view all episodes.

Fundraiser for community college president raises $35,800 to support student scholarships

The North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents (NCACCP) and the North Carolina School Superintendents Association (NCSSA) have partnered to create a scholarship fundraiser in honor of Dr. Darrin Hartness, the president of Davidson-Davie Community College (DDCC).

On May 11, the organizations presented Hartness a check with donations totaling $35,800.

Hartness has dedicated his life to public education. Prior to becoming DDCC’s president, he spent 27 years in K-12 education, with roles ranging from a teacher, principal, to most recently the superintendent of Davie County Schools and Mount Airy County Schools.

In December 2022, Hartness was diagnosed with esophageal cancer.

After hearing the news, NCACCP and NCSSA leaders decided to start the fundraiser as a way to honor Hartness’ work. The money raised will be dedicated to scholarships for high school students in Davie County looking to further their education at DDCC.

Read the full story here. 

Here are the lawmakers working on a final budget proposal

Now that both House and Senate Republicans have released and passed a budget proposal, the two chambers must work together to reach a compromise budget. Here are the lawmakers working on that proposal for how and where the state will allocate funds over the next two years.

This year, because of the Republican supermajority and the deal on Medicaid expansion, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper’s budget proposal is less important for passing a budget. The 2023 budget conferees include six Democrats. Four of those members – Reps. Shelly WillinghamCecil BrockhamMichael Wray, and Garland Pierce – have been swing votes already this legislative session.

The state started the budget process anticipating a $3.25 billion surplus. Last month, the Office of State Budget and Management (OSBM) and the General Assembly’s Fiscal Research Division issued a revised consensus revenue forecast predicting a slightly smaller surplus, down by $135.8 million, or a decrease of 0.4%.

Historically, education is the largest area of the state budget – making up more than half of the total budget.

While the Republican-led House and Senate appropriated comparable amounts in education overall, the House budget proposed much higher raises for teachers and other state employees. That proposal included a 7.50% across-the-board pay raise for teachers over the biennium, with an average pay raise of 10.2% for teachers slated to get step increases.

Cooper’s budget included an average raise for teachers of 18% over the biennium and would have spent $3 billion more than the budget proposed by Republicans.

Read Hannah’s recap here. 

Around NC

Cape Fear Community College President Jim Morton discusses career exploration in middle school and how it can serve as a roadmap for future success in this perspective.

This perspective from post-doctoral researcher Tom Swiderski looks at the how and why for expanding N.C.’s Career and College Promise program. 

The Leonard G. Herring Family Foundation announced a $1 million commitment to Wilkes Community College.

Belk Center Executive Director Dr. AJ Jaeger will join a delegation to the United Kingdom that will focus on Clean Energy and Workforce Development.

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) and Alamance Community College (ACC) will expand their joint Eagle ACCess program in an effort to enhance the talent pipeline for North Carolina’s fast-growing life sciences industry. Read more from NCCU here.

Global health care company Merck and North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University will establish a biotech training center at Gateway Research Park in Greensboro. The 4,025-square-foot facility is expected to be completed in 2024.

Mark your calendars for these upcoming events:

LatinxEd’s 2023 Education Summit is scheduled for Sept. 15-16. You can view event and registration details here. 

The Belk Center announced the annual Dallas Herring Lecture will take place Nov. 14. See more about this year’s keynote speaker here. Registration details will be available soon.

Other higher education reads

Inside the deal giving New Jersey college students 24/7 access to mental health services

During last week’s Early College Summit we heard a great deal about mental health. Leaders said students are struggling and the Covid pandemic has only exacerbated things.

This piece from Higher Ed Drive looks at the deal in New Jersey that will give college students 24/7 access to mental health services.

In the fall of 2021, the state of New Jersey surveyed thousands of college students in the thick of the COVID-19 crisis to better grasp how it had affected their mental well-being.

Polls consistently showed the pandemic taxed student mental health, but the findings of the New Jersey survey still jarred state officials — more than 70% of respondents said their anxiety was higher in fall 2021 than it was a year earlier.

The New Jersey Office of the Secretary of Higher Education wanted to do something.

State officials are working with telehealth platform Uwill on the project they say is the first of its kind in the country.

Read the full article here.

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is a policy analyst for EducationNC.