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JFF Examines Policy’s Impact on Community Colleges in New Podcast Series

JFF Examines Policy’s Impact on Community Colleges in New Podcast Series

June 21, 2021

At a Glance

In the biweekly series When Policy Meets Practice, veteran higher-ed journalist Paul Fain talks with community college leaders and JFF experts to discuss policies the country needs to drive innovation and economic impact.

The pandemic has inflicted unprecedented turmoil on the nation’s learners and workers. In response, policymakers have made or proposed equally unprecedented investments in the nation’s K-12 and postsecondary education systems to address immediate needs and lay the groundwork for a brighter future.

Yet how can we be sure federal and state policy actions will result in more equitable access to quality education and training opportunities? What goals should policymakers be trying to achieve at this moment in history? Where do educational institutions need to do better, and how can policy accelerate improvements in outcomes? And how can we be sure that policy doesn’t end up impeding forward progress and reinforcing inequities in education and skills attainment and economic opportunities?

How can we be sure federal and state policy actions will result in more equitable access to quality education and training opportunities? What goals should policymakers be trying to achieve at this moment in history?

Those are some of the questions JFF is exploring in our new podcast series, When Policy Meets Practice, which begins today, June 21, and will feature a new episode every other Monday into the fall.

In each episode of When Policy Meets Practice, longtime higher education journalist Paul Fain interviews community college leaders who are members of JFF’s Policy Leadership Trust to get their views on what types of policies the country needs to drive innovation and economic impact.

In today’s episode, “The Future of Community College: Key Policy Lessons From the Pandemic,” Paul talks with Madeline Pumariega, president of Miami Dade College, and Marcia Ballinger, president of Ohio’s Lorain County Community College (LCCC), about how their institutions are making transformational changes to meet the urgent needs of their local communities, and how federal and state policies are factoring into those efforts.

Among other things, Marcia and Madeline explain the steps their colleges have taken to increase wraparound services for students and develop programs in which learners can build skills that are in demand in today’s economy.

Be sure to tune in every other Monday for compelling conversations highlighting the most promising work in the field, with blunt takes on fast-moving policy questions.

For instance, LCCC used local and state workforce funds and federal stimulus dollars to create a high-quality short-term training program called Fast-Track to Employment Certificates, which offers students opportunities to earn industry-recognized credentials in 16 weeks or less. The Fast-Track program has attracted increased enrollment among workers who lost their jobs in the pandemic, and among members of Black and Latinx populations historically underserved by higher education.

Similarly, Miami Dade has used state and federal stimulus funds to provide scholarships and stipends to students who participate in programs in which they can retool and acquire skills that are in demand in growing fields like tech within 18 weeks. This orientation to the labor market is in sync with recent Florida legislation that seeks to create greater alignment and accountability across education and workforce development systems.


Mark Your Calendars!

Be sure to tune in every other Monday for compelling conversations highlighting 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.

You can find each episode in the Jobs for the Future feed in your favorite podcast app starting at 5:00 a.m. ET on the day it becomes available. Here’s a look at what we have planned for the first four episodes:

Upcoming Episodes

Episode 1, June 21: “The Future of Community College: Key Policy Lessons From the Pandemic”

Episode 2, July 5: “A Promise to What and for Whom? What It’ll Take to Get Policy Right on Free College”

Episode 3, July 19: “Ladder Economics: The Short and Long Games of Short-Term Training Policy”

Episode 4, August 2: “Policy Talk to Policy Walk: What Must Change in Education and Workforce Policy to Overcome Racial Injustice?”

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