Summer 2009 NEJHE Examines Obama Goal to Increase College Degree Attainment

BOSTON—The Summer 2009 issue of The New England Journal of Higher Education features a Forum on President Obama’s goal to make the U.S. the world leader in college degree attainment as well as commentaries exploring policy journalism in the new media age.

Authors in this Forum include U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan; Capitol Hill education expert Terry Hartle; Muriel Howard, the first minority woman to lead one of the big D.C. higher education associations; and Nellie Mae Education Foundation President Nicholas C. Donohue.

NEJHE also explores the future shape of education policy-related publishing in an age of blogging and Twitter with articles by social technology guru Brian Reich and two NEJHE editorial advisors: Robert Whitcomb, vice president and editorial pages editor at the Providence Journal, and Ralph Whitehead, a journalism professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Among articles in the Summer2009 NEJHE:

Educators Without Borders · Since teaching is a highly mobile profession, the New England states would benefit from a common licensure test and reciprocity policy. Salem State College education professor R. Clarke Fowler explains how.

Learning to Eat · Many college students reared on fast food miss out on the benefits of healthy, local food and the intellectual exposure of a broad palette and good conversation. “For many students, college offers development of a sometimes-overlooked asset: taste buds,” writes Bowdoin College associate director of dining services and executive chef Kenneth Cardone. “How can they not become more adventurous when everyone at their table is enjoying the sweet and sour tofu and the kimchee, especially if their Korean roommate helped the chef perfect the recipe?”

Double-Teamed · Amherst College athletic director Suzanne R. Coffey says college coaches and faculty share a joint interest: the development of student-athletes. “Faculty colleagues covet the passion plainly exhibited in the eyes of an athlete attentively taking in every word during a 30-second time-out. They begrudge the voluntary extra workouts. They envy the edge-of-the-chair eagerness athletes demonstrate in team meetings,” writes Coffey. “It’s up to the athletics community to create the bridges between two educations, to move faculty friends from dismissive to collaborative.”

The Dark Ages of Education and a New Hope · A law requiring Maine schools to teach about Native American history is leading us out of the “dark ages” of education, according to Donna Loring, who served in the Maine Legislature as a tribal representative of the Penobscot Nationfor 12 years. Loring is the author of the 2008 book, In the Shadow of the Eagle: A Tribal Representative in Maine.

Re-engineering Engineering Education · Too often, U.S. engineering is not cost-effective because the majority of today’s engineering graduates do not have the broad background necessary to understand, take charge of and drive large-scale projects to completion in an economic fashion, write Bernard M. Gordon, chairman of Neurologica Corp.and founder of Analogic Corp, and Michael B. Silevitch, director of the Gordon Engineering Leadership Program at Northeastern University.

Education Policy Communication in a New Media Age

  • Prepare for Impact · As media digitizes, information and experiences become more a reflection of the community than a product delivered to the audience. Brian Reich, who recently created a new venture called “little m media” borrowing from his 2007 book, Media Rules! Mastering Today’s Technology to Connect With and Keep Your Audience, explains.
  • Policy Publishing in a New Media Age · Readers in academia are probably the most “Interneted/World Wide Webbed” group of all, according to Robert Whitcomb, vice president and editorial-page editor of The Providence Journal. But warns Whitcomb, “using an old-fashioned library with books and periodicals on paper can be a more disciplined and orderly way to research than using the Internet. And reading and putting things on paper tends to encourage more intellectual rigor than using the attention-deficit-disordered computer world.”
  • An Educated Audience · “A typical reader of a hard-copy publication belongs to a mere audience. A typical reader of a website can belong to a community,” notes University of Massachusetts Amherst journalism professor Ralph Whitehead Jr. The former political writer at the Chicago Sun-Times explains the distinction.

FORUM: Higher Education Attainment: The Obama Benchmark

NEJHE asks the U.S. secretary of education and others to offer a prognosis on President Obama’s pledge to help the U.S. achieve the world’s highest proportion of college graduates by 2020.

  • Historic Opportunity for Action · In a single generation, the U.S. has fallen from second to 11th place in the percentage of students completing college. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan outlines President Obama’s goal to make the America No. 1 in the world in the percentage of adults with college degrees.
  • Driving American Economic Renewal · Muriel A. Howard, president of Buffalo State College, State University of New York since 1996, who begins in August as president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, calls for bold actions to make the U.S. first in college attainment, including expanding Pell Grants and education tax credits, streamlining the federal student aid process and facilitating college access for undocumented students.
  • Ambitious Goal  · “There’s no way to produce 700,000 more college graduates a year if we keep cutting funding,” writes Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president of government and public affairs at the American Council on Education.”We will need to increase higher education’s capacity, and that will require more money.”
  • Our Most Valuable Population · Currently, 22% of 25- to 29-year-olds are unemployed and out of the labor force nationwide. These disconnected young adults are at high risk of spending the rest of their lives as members of the working poor. Nellie Mae Education Foundation President and CEO Nicholas C. Donohue describes some of the model programs that are trying to engage New England’s disconnected young adults with post secondary opportunities.

Strategy to Maintain New England’s Education Advantage · NEBHE President and CEO Michael K. Thomas lays out ways to capitalize on the region’s historical leadership in education. Among them: require rigorous state wide curricula and adopt graduation requirements aligned with entry standards of colleges; use statewide longitudinal data systems; engage low-income students and their families in making an early commitment to college readiness and success; and articulate statewide targets to expand post secondary attainment.

Readiness in Brief · With support from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, NEBHE has published two new briefing papers with its partners in the College Ready New England initiative spotlighting innovative practices, policies and key steps to increase educational attainment for underserved students. NEBHE Chair and Massachusetts state Sen. Joan Menard explains.

Inspiration · How are campus dining, college athletics and Native American history related? In his quarterly Editor’s Memo, NEJHE executive editor John O.Harney discusses how mentor Bob Woodbury sees them as chapters in the eclectic story of New England higher education and economic development.


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