COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on the people community colleges serve, including people who depend on low-wage jobs, and Black, Latinx, and Indigenous individuals. And community colleges will play an important role in helping those workers and learners get their lives back on track.
Policymakers have made or proposed unprecedented investments in the nation’s K-12 and postsecondary education systems to address immediate post-pandemic needs and lay the groundwork for a brighter future. But can we be sure that policies enacted at the federal and state levels will result in more equitable access to quality education and training opportunities?
That’s a question JFF is exploring in this new podcast series, When Policy Meets Practice, which begins June 21. Hosted by longtime higher education journalist Paul Fain, When Policy Meets Practice features conversations with community college leaders who are members of JFF’s Policy Leadership Trust about the policy approaches that produce results for workers, learners, and employers, and those that are falling short
The podcast highlights the most promising work in the field, with blunt takes on fast-moving policy questions, ranging from the push for free community college to proposals to expand Pell Grants to cover short-term training programs. Paul concludes each episode by putting the issues in perspective in conversations with JFF policy experts.
Elevating the Voices on the Ground
One of the goals of When Policy Meets Practice is to ensure that the voices of professionals who are doing work on the ground are included in policy debates. “In order to make sure that policy is doing what we want it to do, we have to be talking with practitioners who are actually the ones who have to work with that policy and make it work for them and make it work for their students,” says JFF Associate Vice President Lexi Barrett, who leads JFF’s state and federal policy efforts.
The podcast kicks off on June 21, 2021, and it will feature a new half-hour episode every other Monday through the early fall. Be sure to subscribe to the podcast and connect with us on Twitter (@JFFtweets) to continue the discussion.
Episode 10: Career Navigation Policy and Best Practices for Today’s Learners and Workers
Faced with steep enrollment declines and growing competition, two leading institutions in postsecondary education and workforce development are making big changes to outdated approaches to better serve students, workers, and industries.
In this episode, journalist Paul Fain talks to Mordecai Brownlee, president of the Community College of Aurora, about the college’s decision to eliminate many degree and credentialing programs with limited economic opportunities, while launching new programs co-designed with industry partners. Meanwhile, Peter Callstrom, president and CEO of the San Diego Workforce Partnership, tells Paul how his organization has joined forces with local public schools to strengthen support for career navigation for youth, starting as early as elementary school. These innovations carry major policy implications, as described by Karishma Merchant, JFF’s associate vice president of policy and advocacy, at the conclusion of the episode.
Read the recap of key takeaways from the episode, as well as policy and programmatic resources.
Episode 9: Saving the Lost Generation: How Career and Technical Education Can Put Today’s Youth Back on a Path to Success
In this bonus 9th episode of the miniseries, Paul Fain is joined by a distinguished panel of K-12 and college leaders to offer policy solutions for helping all young people gain exposure and preparation to in-demand careers through high-quality career and technical education (CTE) programming. The panel – Shannon Cox, superintendent of Montgomery County Educational Service Center; Michael Baston, president of Rockland Community College; Luke Rhine, director of CTE at the Delaware Department of Education; and Carli Schiffner, deputy executive director of the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges – recently teamed up with JFF to develop policy recommendations for strengthening CTE and integrating it more fully into the educational pathways for all youth. At the end of the episode, JFF’s Charlotte Cahill and Crystal Green join Paul to offer their insights. Read JFF’s blog post for a recap of key takeaways and policy and programmatic resources.
Episode 8: Dual Goals of Dual Enrollment: Why Policymakers and Practitioners Should Emphasize Equity and Intentionality When Providing High School Students With Opportunities to Dually Enroll in College
In this final episode of our podcast series, Paul Fain is joined by Marielena DeSanctis, president of Community College of Denver, and Leigh Goodson, president and CEO of Tulsa Community College, to discuss the changing landscape of dually enrolling high school students in college-level courses. The discussion centers on the need for student-centered approaches and policies to better ensure that the courses students take are linked to their education and career plans, and to close equity gaps in access and in transitions to college and careers. The episode concludes with a wrap-up segment with JFF’s Erica Cuevas and Alex Perry of the College in High School Alliance. Read JFF’s blog post for a recap of key takeaways and policy and programmatic resources.
Episode 7: Hitting Reset on Transfer — How Higher Education and Policymakers Can Help More Transfer Students Earn Their Degree and Advance in Today’s Economy
In this special episode, Paul Fain is joined by three members of the Tackling Transfer advisory board — Sharon Morrissey of the Virginia Community College System, Elena Quiroz-Livanis of the Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, and Shirleatha Lee of the University of South Carolina Upstate — to discuss efforts underway in their states and at their institutions to improve equitable outcomes for transfer students. The discussion centers on three policy issues featured in Tackling Transfer’s recently released report Transfer Reset: financial aid, credit for prior learning, and data disaggregation. The episode concludes with a wrap-up segment with JFF’s David Altstadt, who is joined by Lara Couturier of HCM Strategists. Read JFF’s blog post for a recap of key takeaways and policy and programmatic resources.
Episode 6: That’s Not What We Meant to Do: Unintended Consequences of Basing Higher Education Finance Models on Tradition Rather Than on the Needs of Today’s Students
Host Paul Fain is joined by community college presidents Tonjua Williams of St. Petersburg College and Randall VanWagoner of Mohawk Valley Community College to discuss the need to transform traditional higher education funding models to better support community colleges and student-centered approaches.
Tonjua and Randy share their experiences dealing with the disruption from the pandemic and discuss ways in which more flexible funding structures could help them better serve their students. They also suggest policy-related best practices that institutions and government officials across the country could adopt.
Read JFF’s blog post for a recap of key takeaways from Episode 6.
Episode 5: What Adult Learners Need: Reforming the way Higher Education recognizes and supports skills development and career success
Host Paul Fain is joined by Robert Vela, president of Texas’s San Antonio College, and Ajita Talwalker Menon, president of California’s Calbright College, to discuss how postsecondary education can better serve adult learners. Robert and Ajita share their experiences at institutions serving this population and offer tangible steps that policymakers can take to ensure that adults get the training and education they need to develop in-demand skills and pursue careers that offer opportunities for economic advancement. The episode concludes with a wrap-up segment with JFF’s Nate Anderson and Mary Clagett. Read JFF’s blog post for a recap of key takeaways and policy and programmatic resources.
Episode 4: From Statements to Steps: Achieving Racial Equity in Education and Employment
Host Paul Fain is joined by Michael Baston, president of Rockland Community College; Janet Spriggs, president of Forsyth Technical Community College; and Cynthia Olivo, vice president of student services for Pasadena City College, to discuss the need to take a racial equity lens to education and employer practices and public policies. The three community college leaders share their experiences at institutions that embrace diversity, equity, and inclusion and offer tangible steps that policymakers can take to close gaps in education and economic opportunities for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous populations. The episode concludes with a wrap-up segment with JFF’s Michael Collins and David Altstadt. Read JFF’s Blog for a recap of key takeaways and policy and programmatic resources.
Episode 3: Ladder Economics: The Short and Long Game of Short-Term Training Policy
Host Paul Fain is joined by Monty Sullivan, president of Louisiana Community and Technical College System, and Anne Kress, president of Northern Virginia Community College, to discuss short-term credential programs. They share their experiences working in states with short-term postsecondary initiatives, the outcomes they have seen, and their ideas for what good policy would look like. The episode concludes with a wrap-up segment with JFF’s Lexi Barret and Taylor Maag. Read JFF’s Blog for a recap of key takeaways and policy and programmatic resources.
Episode 2: A Promise to What and for Whom? What It’ll Take to Get Policy Right on Free Community College
Host Paul Fain is joined by Russell Lowery-Hart, president of Amarillo College, and Bill Pink, president of Grand Rapids Community College, to discuss free college. They share their experiences running successful college promise scholarship programs and offer their ideas for what good policy would look like to expand free college nationally. The episode concludes with a wrap-up segment featuring JFF’s Lexi Barrett and David Altstadt. Read JFF’s blog for a recap of key takeaways and policy and programmatic resources.
Episode 1: The Future of Community College: Key Policy Lessons From the Pandemic
Paul Fain is joined by Madeline Pumariega, president of Miami Dade College, and Marcia Ballinger, president of Ohio’s Lorain County Community College, who talk about the changes their institutions are making to meet the urgent needs of their local communities, and how federal and state policies are factoring into these efforts. At the end of the episode, JFF’s Lexi Barrett and David Altstadt join Paul for a wrap-up conversation. Read JFF’s blog for a recap of key takeaways and policy and programmatic resources.