Over 1,000 Trustees, Presidents Gather in Washington to Advocate for Community Colleges
WASHINGTON— Over 1,000 community college trustees, presidents, government relations executives, and state community college officials from throughout the United States and beyond came to Washington, D.C. this week to deliver a message to Congress and the White House that maintaining vital federal funding for student financial-aid programs is critical to ensuring economic recovery and future prosperity. Topping the list of urgent concerns at the 2013 Community College National Legislative Summit (NLS) are the need to maintain the Pell Grant, preserve funding for the Community College and Career Training Grant Program, and maintain the minimum funding of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.
The gathering took place at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., February 12-14. The annual Summit is hosted by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) in collaboration with the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
“Our colleges can create a stronger economy,” ACCT Chair Jean Torgeson said during Tuesday’s opening session. “Ensuring that our students have the skills necessary to compete is a significant task. We need to redouble our efforts to keep our elected officials focused on the issues confronting our institutions and students as we seek to strengthen our nation.” Torgeson is a trustee at her alma mater, North Iowa Area Community College.
Coinciding with President Obama’s February 12 State of the Union Address, the 2013 NLS gave community college advocates a boost of morale as they met with their members of Congress. "We are appreciative that the President is again calling on Congress to enact the Community College Career Fund. We urge Congress to move quickly on this proposal to help spur economic growth and prosperity," J. Noah Brown, president and chief executive officer of ACCT told Education Week’s Caralee Adams on Wednesday.
The 2013 NLS included meetings and sessions focusing on the economic and workforce development role of community colleges, featuring distinguished speakers including: Joe Scarborough, co-host of MSNBC’s Morning Joe and former member of U.S. Congress (R-Fla.), and his Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski; Under Secretary of Education Martha J. Kanter; Amy Walter, national editor of the Cook Political Report; and Barry Anderson, deputy director of the National Governors Association.
On Wednesday morning, nearly all 2013 NLS attendees ventured to the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center for a special Community College Forum featuring remarks by U.S. House of Representatives Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (D-S.C.); Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.); Rep. Joe Heck (R-Nev.); and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), who received last year’s National Education Service Award from ACCT and AACC. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) made a special appearance at a reception honoring the Congressional Community College Caucus on Wednesday afternoon. Later that evening, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was recognized with the 2013 National Education Service Award for her outstanding and longstanding support of community and technical colleges.
Throughout the event, participants took to Twitter using the hash tag #NLS2013. Tweets included a photo of Rep. DeLauro wearing a “Stand Up for Pell Grants” campaign button and Rep. Clyburn re-emphasizing his message that he is “a friend and advocate for community colleges here in the Congress” by re-tweeting the message to his constituents. During Thursday morning’s closing session, Under Secretary Kanter, former chancellor of the Foothill-De Anza Community College District in California, discussed the U.S. Department of Education’s ongoing support for community colleges, including a new innovation fund called “First in the World,” which she noted is the title of Brown’s book First in the World: Community Colleges and America’s Future. Last month, the Community College Futures Assembly awarded First in the World the Bellwether Book Award for its visionary look at the past, present, and future of community colleges.
The event program, 2013 Community College Legislative Priorities, and presentations are available online at http://www.acct.org/events/national-legislative-summit. Videos and photos will be posted next week.
About the Association of Community College Trustees
The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) is a non-profit educational organization of governing boards, representing more than 6,500 elected and appointed trustees who govern over 1,200 community, technical, and junior colleges in the United States and beyond. For more information, go to www.acct.org. Follow ACCT on Twitter @CCTrustees.
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