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A Call for Big Changes to Meet a Big Challenge at Community Colleges

Quick fixes aren’t enough to boost lagging completion rates, says a new report

By Katherine Mangan

More than a decade of efforts to propel low-income and underserved students through community college have fallen short because states and colleges haven’t made systemwide commitments to strategies like streamlining degree requirements, accelerating remediation, and financially rewarding colleges for raising graduation and persistence rates, according to a report being released on Thursday by Jobs for the Future.

The report, "Policy Meets Pathways: A State Policy Agenda for Transformational Change," calls for sweeping new strategies that affect all students, not just the few participating in pilot programs on individual campuses.

Full Article

TFA Congratulates Dr. Ansari - EPCC

Fariba Ansari is a full-time associate Physics Professor. She completed her Ph.D. in 2003 in Material Science and Engineering at the University of Texas at El Paso. In addition to physics and engineering research, she has also researched how knowledge of mathematics history affects learning of mathematical concepts, and the effect of “foldables” on student learning in high school mathematics and science.

Dr. Ansari has presented workshops locally, regionally, and nationally on how technology in the science classroom increases student comprehension and learning outcomes. She has taught physics for three years and mathematics for over six years at the community college and secondary school levels. She was a part of the NSF Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship and presented her research findings at local and regional conferences.

She was a participant in the NSF Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program for over two years, for both EPCC and UTEP. She has recently been invited by the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to be a Cognitive Math Coach for UTEP.

Dr. Ansari was a participant in the 2008-2009 cohort of the EPCC Teachership Academy and Leadership Academy. Also, she was a participant in the Leadership Academy at EPCC, and is working to implement innovative instructional methods in the classroom.

She was a 2012 NISOD excellence award recipient. She received the SSTEM scholarship from the NSF to help students in Math and Science in 2012, and received an award from the NSF for SSTEM program.

UT Pan American was recently host to the NEA Emerging Leaders Academy, which included NEA field staff who were the trainers and NEA members from throughout the United States. One of the main topics was Student Debt which affects many junior faculty and the Degrees Not Debt program sponsored by NEA.

Degrees not Debt may be applied to debt as far back as 2007

Mark Winkel UTPA President speaks to a local news station

Members look at Degrees not Debt Information

Some TFA local and state officers

NEA Staff and Emerging Leaders chat with local members

They even talked about Degrees Not Debt while trapped in an elevator

Degrees Not Debt event at El Paso Community College

Saying No to Fully Online

By Carl Straumsheim, Inside Higher Ed

UF Online, the University of Florida's online education arm, won't offer a political science degree after the department, concerned about quality and the state's shifting leadership, voted against the idea.

Unlike many online education initiatives, which target adult learners and other groups of students not normally served by course offerings on campus, UF Online is meant to educate first-time-in-college students -- high school graduates between the ages of 18 and 22. When a department at UF declines to participate, it creates a hole in UF Online’s lineup.

The decision wasn’t based on passionate opposition to online education, said Ido Oren, associate professor and chair of the political science department. The department already offers online versions of several of its introductory and upper-level courses, but the idea of stringing those courses into -- and developing a number of new courses for -- a fully online major gave some faculty members pause.

Full Article

Short-Term Certificates Boom, but Study Finds They Don’t Help Students Get Jobs

By Katherine Mangan, The Chronicle of Higher Education

Short-term community-college certificates, which have been growing rapidly in popularity as a way to get students quickly and cheaply into jobs, do not, in fact, help most recipients land employment or earn more money, according to a study being released on Thursday.

The study is based on data from Washington state, but it reflects similar findings in three other states, according to researchers at the Community College Research Center at Columbia University's Teachers College and the Career Ladders Project, an initiative of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges.

Full Article

Competency, Texas-Style

By Paul Fain, Inside Higher Ed

The University of Texas System plans to make its first foray into competency-based education fittingly far-reaching.

The system’s forthcoming “personalized” credentials will be limited to the medical sciences, for now. But the new, competency-based curriculum will involve multiple institutions around the state, system officials said, with a track that eventually will stretch from high school, or even middle school, all the way to medical school.

Many details still need to be hashed out about the project, which the system announced this week. But several key elements are in place.

Full Article

New Analysis Shows Problematic Boom In Higher Ed Administrators

By Jon Marcus, The New England Center for Investigative Reporting

What's the change at your school? Check out our searchable table.

The number of non-academic administrative and professional employees at U.S. colleges and universities has more than doubled in the last 25 years, vastly outpacing the growth in the number of students or faculty, according to an analysis of federal figures.

The disproportionate increase in the number of university staffers who neither teach nor conduct research has continued unabated in more recent years, and slowed only slightly since the start of the economic downturn, during which time colleges and universities have contended that a dearth of resources forced them to sharply raise tuition.

Full Article

Degrees Not Debt

TFA is holding information sessions and workshops to give faculty information about how to reduce student loan payments and reduce the amount owed. We kicked off the campaign with a film and discussion led by Nilka Julio, NEA field staff person at Brazosport College. We are following it up with "Paperwork Workshops." There are designated TFA members at Brazosport who are willing to help our members with individual questions.

For more information visit http://www.nea.org/degreesnotdebt and http://www.nea.org/home/60418.htm

Lily Eskelsen García - NEA President

Nilka Julio - NEA staff, Harvey Yarborough - TFA Board Member, Mary Aldridge Dean - TFA Executive Director

Molly Braun - NEA Organizing Institute team member, Harvey Yarborough - TFA Board Member

At El Paso Community College TFA combined a local political update, voter registration, and information on Degrees Not Debt

Gabe Camacho - EPCC Local Chapter President, Mike Coulehan - TFA State President, and an EPCC local member

At UT Pan American TFA worked with Battleground Texas on voter registration, with the Texas Department of Public Safety present to issue state ID cards due to the voter ID law that was passed during the last session, as the law did not allow for student identification cards to be used for voting purposes.

Battleground Texas worker and James Aldridge - local 40 year member, former State President, and TFA Board Member who coordinated with Battleground

Degrees Not Debt hands-on workshop at Brazosport College

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Information Re: The 84th Legislative Session

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The Texas Tribune Tribpedia: Previewing The 84th Legislature

Texas Fiscal Information

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board

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