Wednesday, January 7, 2015

CT State Sen. Dante Bartolomeo Meets with MxCC

Connecticut State Senator Danté Bartolomeo (D, 13th District) joined educators, advisors, deans, and community supporters at Middlesex Community College’s Meriden Center on January 5 to discuss how the College is implementing and complying with Public Act 12-40.  The group explained how MxCC is identifying and serving students who need remedial support in math and English necessary to begin an associate degree or certificate program at the College.

Since its passage in 2012, Public Act 12-40 has meant Connecticut public community colleges and state universities must reconfigure how remedial or developmental education is delivered. It also requires public high schools to align their curriculum as described by the Common Core State Standards to ensure that graduates are ready for college level work. 

Prior to this bill, however, MxCC had identified an increase in the need for remedial math and English programs to support individuals who have been away from formal education for long periods of time, or who never built an appropriate skill set while in high school.  The College had been developing “fast track” or transitional programs for these students, which had to be modified to meet the specific demands of the new law.  Additionally, the school had been proactively addressing ways to resolve other barriers to higher education including the need for certain social services, family obligations, and balancing school and work schedules. 

“As a community college, MxCC does not set academic admissions requirements for enrollment,” explained Dr. Steven Minkler, MxCC’s academic dean.  “However, in order to succeed in our most basic math and English classes, students often need refresher courses or other support.  Additionally, since our goal is student success, it makes sense that we take remedial learning seriously.”

Another ongoing challenge discussed at the meeting was the complexity in transferring within the state college system.  Each of the state universities and college has its own set of requirements that affect the course choice of MxCC students.  Emily Canto (pictured here talking with Sen. Bartolomeo), career counselor and academic advisor at MxCC, illustrated this by showing the transcripts of three MxCC students and detailing how different each student’s transfer experience would be at three Connecticut state universities. The group also discussed Transform 2020, a multi-year improvement effort by the Board of Regents of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities (CSCU).

“It is so important to listen to and learn from the experiences of educators and students who are affected first-hand by laws and legislation coming out of Hartford, especially in the area of standards, developmental education, and transferring to other Connecticut colleges,” Bartolomeo said.  “Upon graduation, most community college students stay in our state, making them one of our most valuable assets who will drive our future economy.  Clearly, we owe it to them to listen to the concerns and ideas of their professors and administrators and support them as much as possible.”

The event was coordinated by MxCC Professor Tad Lincoln, who also oversees the legislative internship program at the College.  In addition to representing a large proportion of MxCC’s service area, Bartolomeo is the newly appointed Co-Chair of the Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committee which manages issues related to the state’s Office of Higher Education and the Board of Regents for Higher Education, private occupational schools, and various job training institutions and programs.

Bartolomeo was open to learning more about the challenges at the community college level and at MxCC.  At the same time, she encouraged MxCC to learn more about legislative timelines and the need for hard data outlining challenges. 

“I welcome concrete recommendations and suggestions for keeping our community college system competitive, responsive, and available to all students,” Bartolomeo said.  “Higher education is only growing in importance to today’s workforce, and many students need a healthy community college option.”

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