Support the AGI in the Senate
Washington is still reeling from the two massive snowfalls that visited our region recently and caused the postponement of the National Legislative Summit (NLS). As I write, AACC's legislative staff is working overtime with ACCT to develop a new program for March 10-12. The program won't be quite as extensive as usual, but it will be the same high quality. Please visit www.acct.org if you would like to register for the March summit. In the meantime, please see the legislative priorities as developed by AACC and ACCT staff for the original summit, on the AACC Web site.
We especially regret the postponement of the NLS because President Obama's American Graduation Initiative (AGI), which will be included in broader education reconciliation legislation, remains stalled in the U.S. Senate. While the primary reason for this delay is the legislation's link to the health care insurance reform effort, we are concerned that the legislation has not been brought to a committee vote. This is especially disturbing since the AGI/budget reconciliation legislation needs only 51 votes to clear the Senate because of its status as a "reconciliation" bill.
Therefore, we urge you to continue to communicate your support for the AGI to your Senators. Some Senators will vote against the legislation, but all your legislators should know where you, as a leader in your community, stand on this key issue. In asking your Senator to support legislation that embodies the American Graduation Initiative, you should make the following points:
1) There is broad consensus that America's colleges and universities need to graduate more, and higher percentages, of their students. Community colleges have the most important role to play in this effort, since they are not only the largest sector of higher education, but they also serve the highest percentages of those who, statistically, are least likely to succeed.
2) The American Graduation Initiative represents an historic investment in America's community colleges, $12 billion over 10 years. It will enable community colleges to design strategies to help meet national goals in areas such as dual enrollment, remedial education, workforce education, transfer, and closing achievement gaps. Funding is to be linked to documentable achievements—grants must show verifiable results in targeted areas.
3) The AGI will infuse $2.5 billion of badly needed infrastructure support into community college campuses. Community college infrastructure needs are staggering, and the institutions routinely lose out at the state level in the competition for facilities funding.
4) The broader budget reconciliation legislation will fund significant increases in the Pell Grant program and provide assistance in other key programs, including Hispanic-Serving Institutions, HBCUs, and reform of the student aid application process.
A fax, an e-mail, or, best of all, personal conversation (Congress is on break this week and most Senators will be home) is better than mailing a letter. Information about contacting your Senator can be found on AACC’s Web site. You can also find more information about the AGI on our site. Please contact David Baime at 202 728-0200, ext. 224, if you have further questions.
Thank you for taking the time to express your support for this key initiative.
George R. Boggs
CEO and President