BY GERARDO de los SANTOS
THE NATIONAL COMPLETION AGENDA—manifested in President Obama’s challenge to double the number of degree and certificate
holders in this country by 2020, and in the quest for employable skills by
displaced workers in the current economic crisis—is having a transformative effect on America’s community colleges.
Calls from politicians, policy makers, former CEOs, and union leaders for more
innovation in solving our nation’s economic problems, together with the belief that
our educational system could benefit from a greater emphasis on degree attainment,
underscore the need for change across our campuses.
A new brand of education—one that promises to look far different from the peda-
gogy of the past—is emerging. Enter the “new normal.”
Paul Yakoboski, principal research fellow at TIAA-CREF Institute, says the new
normal will require “innovating to meet the need for higher education.” David Gergen,
professor of public service and director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard’s
John F. Kennedy School of Government, says it “means the budget crunch is not going
away…We’re going to have to innovate our way out of it as a country.”
Such optimism about innovation reflects the value placed on it as an end and a
means for solving problems. Innovation is prized as a way of creating new applications
to improve and expand student learning, and to deal with some of the elusive issues
that confound educators in achieving that goal.
40 COMMUNITY COLLEGE JOURNAL December 2010/January 2011