Week one of the 60-day legislative session has come to a close and legislators have been busy! Scheduled to end March 13, this year’s legislative session is especially busy given the constricted timeline to pass bills, a possible supplemental budget, and debate over critical statewide issues. Examples include raising the state’s minimum wage, providing a cost-of-living increase to teachers, funding statewide transportation projects, and many others.
The community and technical college system continues to be well represented in Olympia. This week, CTCs presented in committee hearings, testified on proposed bills, and met with legislators to support our 2014 legislative session priorities. Discussion ranged from student demographic data, the Governor’s proposed supplemental budget, services for student veterans, and long-term goals for the CTC system.
Below are highlights from week one…
Student demographics and workforce training
While skill gaps are a hot topic of conversation, another gap is forming in Washington: a population gap. That was the message shared with the House Higher Education Committee during a work session on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
Over the next 20 years, population growth among students straight out of high school – traditionally considered the key source for enrollments – will slow, while the demand for degree-production will grow. Simply put: There won’t be enough high school graduates to meet the higher-education needs of the future workforce. Washington will need to fill the gap with older adults – a faster growing population that is burgeoning in areas of the state with less educational attainment and more diversity. These were among the findings presented by David Prince, SBCTC research director.
“High school graduation classes peaked in 2010 and they won’t peak again until 2027,” Prince said. “Growth is mostly coming from older students and nontraditional students coming back to college or going to college for the first time [and] from areas with the lowest educational attainment.”
Jan Yoshiwara, SBCTC deputy director for education services, discussed the implications for community and technical colleges.
“What we need to think about is how to tap into, in a bigger way, higher education participation for people who have been out of school for a while,” she said. “Older students are overwhelmingly work oriented. They want jobs. And a portion of them need basic skills work or some remediation to get up to college level skills.”
According to Yoshiwara, changing demographics may require a new look at funding.
“We have to think about how this is going to affect our funding, because workforce training is the most expensive stuff that we do. If our shift in…the kinds of programs we deliver lean more heavily toward the more expensive programs – which is what we need to do – then we need to think about how we’re going to finance that.”
Yoshiwara said older students are less patient; they want to get in, get their skills, graduate, and land a job. Community and technical colleges are responding with acceleration strategies, e-learning, competency-based education and integrated studies like I-BEST, which blend basic skills and workforce training in the same class so people achieve multiple levels of education simultaneously rather than sequentially.
Veterans’ services and the state’s workforce system
Helping veterans transition back into the workforce was the focus of a Senate Higher Education Committee work session on Thursday, Jan. 16.
Marie Bruin, SBCTC workforce policy associate, discussed the agency’s role with the Washington State Military Transition Council and highlighted far-reaching programs to help veterans readjust and land well-paying jobs. She pointed to training, advising, disability services, tutoring, and service centers as examples of veteran-focused efforts. Community and technical colleges are also working jointly to identify training “crosswalks” that connect service members’ skills with today’s jobs.
“We are developing programs specifically for veterans in allied health, manufacturing, paralegal, homeland security, emergency management, and criminal justice,” she said.
Bruin also pointed out that colleges have won federal Department of Labor grants to help veterans train for jobs in aerospace, information technology, health information technology, nursing, aviation, and prosthetics/orthotics.
“We want to take a moment to thank all the active military service members, veterans, reserve, National Guard, and their families for their commitment and service to our nation,” she said. “Collectively, we are really proud to support them in pursuing and achieving their educational and career goals.”
The committee closed with public testimony on SB 5969, which requires public colleges and universities to adopt policies to award academic credit for military training.
Scott Copeland, SBCTC student services policy associate, spoke in favor of the measure, pointing out that the state’s 34 community and technical colleges currently have policies in place. SBCTC is proposing additional language to ensure prior learning credits are applied specifically to degrees and certificates so veterans don’t run the risk of exhausting or losing their benefits.
Long-term education goals
Chair Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, and House Higher Education Committee members, held a work session on Friday, Jan. 17 to hear how higher education institutions will meet goals outlined in the WA Student Achievement Council’s Ten-Year Roadmap.
Marty Brown, SBCTC executive director, Dr. Tim Stokes, South Puget Sound Community College president, and Dr. Marty Cavalluzzi, Pierce College Puyallup president, explained how CTCs are working to meet the Roadmap goals for 2023:
· 100 percent of Washington adults (ages 25-44) will have a high school diploma or equivalency; and
· 70 percent of Washington adults (ages 25-44) will have a college credential.
Brown explained that CTCs represent communities across the state and help students at every educational level increase skills and workforce success.
“Every legislative district is covered by a community [or technical] college. We are very well situated because of the number of part time students and because of the outreach to traditionally underserved students to get to that growing population and help with the attainment goals of the Roadmap,” Brown said.
Dr. Cavalluzzi demonstrated how CTCs are meeting the Roadmap goals at a variety of stages throughout the system, supporting multiple pathways and on-ramps to increase student success.
“We are addressing the Roadmap goals on multiple levels. First, we’re creating that direct pipeline to the baccalaureate with 43 percent of our students earning an AA or an AS degree. We’re providing professional, technical training with degrees and certificates and now BAS degrees. That’s allowing people to continue in the workforce and move up within the workforce. We’re providing education for those individuals with less than a ninth grade education and we’re providing those courses that bridge that gap between basic skills and college level courses,” Cavalluzzi said.
A significant example of how CTCs continue to track student progress and reward success is the Student Achievement Initiative. Dr. Stokes explained to committee members that this initiative – created by the CTCs – drives our colleges to continually improve educational models.
“We believe this holds some of the greatest promise for us to help meet the two Roadmap goals. What it requires us to do on every single one of our college campuses is to rethink, redesign, and redeploy many of our educational practices… The Student Achievement Initiative is requiring us to think about how we move students through that process with the goal of getting them to college level work more quickly,” Stokes said.
During early floor action this week, the House passed two bills that impact CTCs:
ESHB 1817, introduced last session by Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, passed the House 71-23 (2 excused). This bill would allow undocumented students to be eligible for state financial aid.
“All young adults who are committed to their communities…who graduate from our high schools…who get into our state colleges…who are already paying state tuition…would be allowed to compete for the opportunity for help with tuition. This isn’t a giveaway; it’s an opportunity to compete,” Hudgins said.
Co-sponsor Rep. Bruce Chandler, R-Granger, also spoke in favor of the measure: “This issue is still what is best for our communities, what is best for our state, what is best for our children. At the end of the day, what this bill does is say, ‘if you graduate from a Washington State high school, you will be treated just the same as every other graduate from that high school.’”
ESHB 1817 is now headed to the Senate for possible consideration.
HB 1043, also introduced last session by Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, passed the House 90-2 (4 excused). This bill would repeal the ability for higher education institutions to charge differential tuition to resident students for more expensive courses or programs.
HB 1043 is now headed to the Senate for possible consideration.
SBCTC Government Relations provides updated legislative resources throughout session:
· Bill Watch List – important bills being considered that may have significant impact on the CTC system.
· Bill Status Report – all bills being tracked by SBCTC staff during session.
· Weekly Hearing Schedule – schedule of weekly hearings where CTCs are testifying and/or monitoring bills.
· Legislator information – contact information for legislators organized by college district, committee, caucus, etc.