A couple of commentaries for you to consider, both of with provide insightful analyses of President Obama's speech earlier this week, a hallmark of which was dedicating $12 billion to improving community colleges nationwide.
Obama announced the American Graduation Initiative, which proposes a host of new tactics to get more students enrolled in community colleges, and to get more of those new students to complete their programs. That last goal is notoriously difficult, for a lot of reasons. Among the proposed programs in Obama's plan: more money for financial aid and classroom construction; plus funding to make remedial education programs more successful; developing new ways to divvy up state funding for community colleges; and coming up with a new metric to gauge completion and graduation rates.
The Obama initiative is designed to go right at these deeper problems. It sets up a significant innovation fund, which, if administered properly, could set in motion a spiral of change. It has specific provisions for remedial education, outcome tracking and online education. It links public sector training with specific private sector employers.
A community college dean who blogs at Inside Higher Ed also weighs in, praising many of the ideas in the plan (as Brooks does), but also raising some concerns:
This could quickly turn into a higher ed version of No Child Left Behind, complete with local incentives to game the system, rewards going to the already-affluent, and political interference in content [of nationally developed courses].