Update on President Obama's American Graduation Initiative - Dec.1, 2009
As I've written before, President Obama's American Graduation Initiative could provide significant assistance to California's community colleges and opportunities to invest in programs that enhance student success. The initiative is included in The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (H.R. 3221) by Congressman George Miller, which passed the House of Representatives on September 17. H.R. 3221 ensures that the new investments in community colleges and other education programs (including Pell Grants) do not add to the national debt, as they are fully paid for by eliminating federal subsidies to financial institutions through the transition of federal loans to the direct lending program.
Unfortunately, the bill is caught up behind the health care reform bill currently being considered in the Senate. Unlike the House, the committee with jurisdiction over health care is the same committee charged with approving education bills. To complicate matters, the Senate Committee's chairmanship was migrated to Senator Tom Harkin after Ted Kennedy's death. While all reports are that the transition has been managed well, it's been a very difficult year for committee staff.
With the Senate expected to continue the debate on health care reform until just before Christmas, it now appears more likely than not that the Senate version of The Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act will be delayed until January. While this is a troubling development as investments in student success and career-technical programs that put Americans back to work are needed as soon as possible, it is important that we recognize the Congressional leadership's priority of tackling health care first.
We continue to seek changes to the bill as approved by the House, and hope that many will be incorporated in the bill introduced in the Senate. Stay tuned for more opportunities to weigh in to ensure that your students and college have the opportunity to benefit from this historic federal investment.
President and Chief Executive Officer
Orange Coast College '94
Community College League of California
2017 O Street, Sacramento, California 95811
916.444.8641 . www.ccleague.org