Community and technical college board signs on to Cradle Through College Coalition
OLYMPIA — The Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges yesterday voted to join the Cradle Through College Coalition (C2C) as it works with the Washington state Legislature on state investment in early learning through higher education. The Legislature is faced this session with fully funding K-12 education as mandated by the Supreme Court's 2012 McCleary decision. C2C advocates for each stage of education — early learning, K-12 and higher education — with the goals of closing opportunity gaps, ending the current practice of using local levies to fund basic education, and increasing state investment to achieve improved educational outcomes.
"Nearly 381,000 students come to our community and technical colleges because we provide a high quality, affordable education. We play a vital role in meeting our state's education needs," Shaunta Hyde, State Board chair, said. "C2C's message of closing the opportunity gap and investing in all levels of education is right on point. We need the state to make solid investments in education so all Washingtonians can earn a quality education."
A recent report from the Washington Roundtable showed the state will have 740,000 job openings in the next five years, more than half of which will require post-secondary education or training. Most of those jobs will require more than a high school diploma, but less than a four-year degree; which is main level of education provided by community and technical colleges.
"The Cradle Through College Coalition members are thrilled to have the support for the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges," said Mary Jean Ryan, executive director of the Community Center for Education Results. "The community colleges play a critical role in Washington State higher education, in every community, and it is a role that is only getting more important as labor market skill requirements continue to rise."
C2C Coalition members include school districts, non-profit organizations, colleges and universities and a variety of stakeholders. The member community and technical colleges are:
- Bellevue College
- Green River College
- Renton Technical College
- Seattle College District, which includes North Seattle College, Seattle Central College, Seattle Vocational Institute and South Seattle College
The state's goal for postsecondary education is for 70 percent of all adults to have a credential beyond a high school diploma or GED® by 2023. To meet that goal, community and technical colleges will need to produce 228,000 more graduates who have earned a degree or certificate for the first time. Programs like Washington MESA — Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement — help under-represented community college students so they can ultimately earn a STEM bachelor's degree. Additionally, colleges are implementing "Guided Pathways," a research-based approach that simplifies choices for students. Courses are grouped together to form specific career paths that lead to jobs after graduation. Students also get intensive, targeted advising to stay on their chosen pathway so they can complete a certificate or degree.
"Research tells us that well-trained early learning professionals can make a profound difference in the trajectory of a child's life," said Jon Gould, Children's Alliance deputy director and co-chair of the C2C steering committee. "Community and technical colleges in Washington have stepped up to meet the need for high-quality training, credentials and degrees for early childhood teachers. From students to teachers, the shared success of our state depends on the strength of our education continuum."
C2C was launched in 2014 by individuals and organizations concerned with the way the state was funding basic education following the McCleary decision. This legislative session, the coalition is focusing on equity from early learning through higher education.