Reporter’s notebook

New deadlines for Pathways to Credentials applications

Due to COVID-19, the Education Department has extended to April 16 the application deadline for Pathways to Credentials, which provides community colleges with free technical assistance on stackable, industry-recognized credentials.

Attorneys general ask ED to halt on new Title IX rules

Eighteen Democratic attorneys general are asking U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other officials to hold off on releasing Title IX regulations pertaining to how colleges handle sexual assault cases.

The top state attorneys said in a letter to DeVos that colleges are already overwhelmed as they adapt to handling changes resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.

“With school resources already stretched thin, now is not the time to require school administrators, faculty, and staff to review new, complex Title IX regulations, revise their schools’ policies in response, and communicate these changes to students and parents,” the letter said. “The changes outlined in the proposed rule would take a great deal of an institution’s time, resources, and effort in the best of circumstances. But in the midst of a national health emergency, the burden placed on schools would be untenable and ultimately counterproductive to student safety. Instead, educational resources should be preserved at this time to focus on providing education and other critical services for our students.”

Feedback on Open Textbook Pilot

The U.S. Education Department seeks comments on proposed priorities, requirements and definitions for its Open Textbook Pilot program.

The program supports projects at colleges and universities that create new open textbooks or expand the use of open textbooks to help students save money while also improving instruction and learning outcomes, according to a notice in the Federal Register. Increasing textbook costs creates financial barriers to college access and completion, particularly for low-income students who are more likely not to buy textbooks.

In the 2017–18 academic year, the average college student budget for books and supplies was $1,471 for students attending two-year institutions, according to the notice.

Comments are due April 30.

Nursing students’ perspectives

Nursing students at Rowan College at Burlington County (New Jersey) are helping local efforts to fight the coronavirus. Hear their stories during a town hall meeting on the college’s Facebook page on April 1 at noon ET.

Helping small businesses

Small business development centers located at community colleges around the country are reminding local business owners and entrepreneurs of the services they can provide — from business counseling to training — during the current health crisis.

Among them is the center at Rockland Community College (RCC) in New York, which has operated since 1987. Officials there have over the last several weeks learned about the anticipated impact of COVID-19 on small businesses and their employees, clients and communities and have helped hundreds to apply for federal low-interest Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

“Being housed at Rockland Community College has enabled us to support local businesses because of the ease of access, staff and technology in place,” said Tom Morley, regional director of the New York Small Business Develop Center at RCC. “At this critical time, we are able to work not just at the college, within the specified safety protocols, but also work remotely to provide small to mid-sized businesses with the support they need to get the answers to their questions, as well as facilitate the loan application process. While the online system is certainly feeling the pressure of so many applications coming in at once, we are here personally to answer questions and guide people through the process and provide a sense of hope.”

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.