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Gainful Employment Redux, and Back to Court We Go

by Tod Massa 7. November 2014 18:13

We are still seeing the thinking and fallout about USED publishing the to the rules on Gainful Employment.  Matt Reed at "Confessions of a Community College Dean" over on InsideHigherEd had a nice essay. Two comments in particular caught my eye. The first is important reminder for those of us in the policy domain:

"Policy is meant to address problems as they’re understood. When the problems aren’t fully understood, the policy intervention can misfire pretty badly."

It's a pretty obvious statement, but one worth repeating occasionally.

"If anything, I’d like to see more awareness at the high school level -- including guidance counselors and parents -- that for many students, posing the question as “community college or a four-year school” gets the conjunction wrong. For many students, community college AND a four-year school is the best answer.  It’s a straightforward way to keep costs down without sacrificing ambition.  For that pathway to thrive, though, policy has to allow for it."

This idea came up today in the IPAC meeting when one of the provosts asked about Virginia policy about career and technical education in high schools. It is a little known fact I was enrolled in the vo-tech program for printing in Loudoun County for the fall of 1978 (my junior year of high school). Had I not moved to Missouri that summer, someone else would probably be writing this blog. It seems to me that we should all know more about state policy and local options for career and technical education in order to better consider higher ed policy. And advise students.

The Community College Research Center (CCRC) released another report demonstrating that short-term certificates do not appear to have strong labor market returns. This is similar to results they found in previous work in Virginia and a handful of other states.

Way back many years ago, when I was in museum management classes in grad school, we were taught that there were three simple rules for board members: Give, Get, or Get Off. I'm guessing those rules don't apply so much now for colleges and universities, if they ever did. The Association of Governing Boards of Colleges and Universities has released this report from its National Commission on College and University Board Governance. The summary of their "rules" is thus:

1. Boards must improve value in their institutions and lead a restoration of public trust in higher education itself.

2. Boards must add value to institutional leadership and decision making by focusing on their essential role as institutional fiduciaries.

3. Boards must act to ensure the long-term sustainability of their institutions by addressing changed finances and the imperative to deliver a high-quality education at a lower cost.

4. Boards must improve shared governance within their institutions through attention to board-president relationships and a reinvigoration of faculty shared governance. Boards additionally must attend to leadership development in their institutions, both for presidents and faculty.

5. Boards must improve their own capacity and functionality through increased attention to the qualifications and recruitment of members, board orientation, committee composition, and removal of members for cause.

6. Boards must focus their time on issues of greatest consequence to the institution by reducing time spent reviewing routine reports and redirecting attention to cross-cutting and strategic issues not addressed elsewhere.

 7. Boards must hold themselves accountable for their own performance by modeling the same behaviors and performance they expect from others in their institutions.

There are probably some valuable lessons for all of us here.

Finally, Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities has sued to block implementation of the new Gainful Employment rules. Some of the conversation on Twitter has been fairly amusing. Barmak Nassirian is mastering the witty jab of a 140 characters or fewer.




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