Introduction: Board of Trustees - Foothill-De Anza Community College District                               

I have the privilege of being part of a nationally recognized community college system at a time when community colleges are being called on more than ever as a critical link in our whole educational system. They pull up from K-12, they feed the 4-year college systems and they provide essential technical training for a large segment of our workforce.

Foothill and De Anza colleges are among the most respected community colleges in the nation, well known for innovative programs, high completion rates and record numbers of students transferring to the University of California and California State campuses.  We are very fortunate to exist in this community, which is an amazing resource and extremely supportive. We need to build on that support in the very important years ahead.

This web site tries to tell the Foothill-DeAnza story in words and pictures. Please join me, starting with theTHE FHDA STORYsection.

 

 

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District Mission

 The mission of the Foothill – De Anza Community College District is student success. We accomplish this by providing access to a dynamic learning environment that fosters excellence, opportunity and innovation in meeting the diverse educational and career goals of our students and communities.
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Articles and columns

More and more people are discussing the great value of this country’s community colleges. Here are a few articles and columns that I have come across:

 

Filling the Skills Gap by Joe Nocera in the NYTimes July 3, 2012. Joe tells the story of Year Up. This program is starting at Foothill this Fall.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/opinion/nocera-filling-the-skills-gap.html)

A man named Gerald Chertavian came by my office not long ago, and, by the time he left, I was filled with renewed appreciation for the potential of community colleges to help stem the decline of the middle class. There are few more urgent tasks.

Chertavian is not the president of a community college or even a teacher at one. Rather, he runs a program, Year Up, which he founded, that makes it possible for poor high school graduates to land good jobs. It does so, in part, by imparting important soft skills that the upper-middle-class take for granted, like how to interact with colleagues in an office setting.

A second aspect of the program involves teaching marketable skills in such areas as computer support, say, or back-office work at financial firms. These are called middle-skill jobs; they require more than a high school education but less than a four-year baccalaureate degree. Thirty years ago, said Chertavian, middle-skill jobs didn’t exist. “There were jobs that required a college degree, and jobs that didn’t. Now,” he said, “up to a third of all jobs are middle-skill jobs.” Almost universally, companies complain that they can’t find enough workers to fill those jobs.

 

New Rules by Tom Freidman in the NY Times, September 8, 2012.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/09/opinion/sunday/friedman-new-rules.html?ref=thomaslfriedman)

That world is gone. It is now a more open system. Technology and globalization are wiping out lower-skilled jobs faster, while steadily raising the skill level required for new jobs. More than ever now, lifelong learning is the key to getting into, and staying in, the middle class.

There is a quote attributed to the futurist Alvin Toffler that captures this new reality: In the future “illiteracy will not be defined by those who cannot read and write, but by those who cannot learn and relearn.” Any form of standing still is deadly.

I covered the Republican convention, and I was impressed in watching my Times colleagues at how much their jobs have changed. Here’s what a reporter does in a typical day: report, file for the Web edition, file for The International Herald Tribune, tweet, update for the Web edition, report more, track other people’s tweets, do a Web-video spot and then write the story for the print paper. You want to be a Times reporter today? That’s your day. You have to work harder and smarter and develop new skills faster.

Van Ton-Quinlivan, the vice chancellor for work force and economic development at the California Community Colleges System, explained to me the four basic skill sets out there today. The first are people who are “ready now.” That’s people with exactly the right skills an employer is looking for at the right time. Employers will give the local labor market and schools the first chance at providing those people, but if they are not available they’ll go the “shortest distance to find them,” she said, and today that could be anywhere in the world. Companies who can’t find “ready now” will look for “ready soon,” people who, with limited training and on-the-job experience, can fit right in. If they can’t find those, some will hire “work ready.” These are people with two or four years of postsecondary education who can be trained, but companies have shrinking budgets for that now and want public schools to do it. Last are the growing legions of the “far from ready,” people who dropped out or have only a high school diploma. Their prospects for a decent job are small, even if they are ready to “work hard and play by the rules.”

No Size Fits All by David Brooks in the NY Times, July 17, 2009.  (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/17/opinion/17brooks.html)

If you visit a four-year college, you can predict what sort of student you are going to bump into. If you visit a community college, you have no idea. You might see an immigrant kid hoping eventually to get a Ph.D., or another kid who messed up in high school and is looking for a second chance. You might meet a 35-year-old former meth addict trying to get some job training or a 50-year-old taking classes for fun.

These students may not realize it, but they’re tackling some of the country’s biggest problems. Over the past 35 years, college completion rates have been flat. Income growth has stagnated. America has squandered its human capital advantage. Students at these places are on self-directed missions to reverse that, one person at a time.

Community college enrollment has been increasing at more than three times the rate of four-year colleges. This year, in the middle of the recession, many schools are seeing enrollment surges of 10 percent to 15 percent. And the investment seems to pay off. According to one study, students who earn a certificate experience a 15 percent increase in earnings. Students earning an associate degree registered an 11 percent gain.

A Boon to 2-Year Colleges, Affirming Their Value By Tamar Lewin (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/education/15college.html)

The Obama administration’s proposal to provide $12 billion to community colleges is widely seen by educators as explicit recognition of the two-year colleges’ importance to the economy.

“For years, the Washington conversation about public education has all been about k-12, and increasing access to college,” said Andy Van Kleunen, executive director of The Workforce Alliance, a national group of employers, unions, and education and training providers. “This changes the whole game.”