A boost for remedial-education program

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation logo 

A grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will expand a model program
in Washington State that promotes remedial education to help students get
their community-college degree. Mitchell Hartman reports.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation logo (







STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Enrollment at community colleges is soaring as unemployed
workers head back to class to try and upgrade their skills. Today, the Bill
& Melinda Gates Foundation is announcing a $6 million grant to expand a
model program in Washington State that promotes remedial education to help
more students get their community-college degree. Marketplace's Mitchell
Hartman filed this report. 


Teacher: If you were going to put this in with a milling machine you could
not put a blind if you'd bored a hole through it, and sunk it down.

MITCHELL HARTMAN: Twenty-five students -- mostly middle-aged men -- are
packed into a community-college classroom in Longview, Wash., a struggling
mill town. They're studying for a certificate in manufacturing processes.

Robert Rondinelli has a high-school diploma. He worked as a cabinet-maker
until he was laid off last year.

ROBERT RONDINELLI: In my classes that I'm taking I'm doing very well in most
except the math. The math is what I need the most.

Rondinelli's learning remedial math together with trade skills like welding
and manufacturing processes. He's part of a program that pairs basic
academics and job training in a single class. Most students have to pass
English and math before getting job training.

HILARY PENNINGTON: It slows them down, it trips them up, and a great number
of them never get out of it.

Hilary Pennington is with the Gates Foundation. She says community-college
students in Washington's program complete certificates at four times the
rate of other students. The $6-million grant will help expand the program,
which Pennington says could become a national model.

Robert Rondinelli is hoping for classroom success and a job.

RONDINELLI: Nowadays they're requiring a lot more skill for entry-level.
Otherwise I'd be right at the bottom of the heap. 

I'm Mitchell Hartman for Marketplace.



Wednesday, October 14, 2009 - Page updated at 05:00 AM

Grants aim to increase community-college graduation rates

By Linda Shaw

Seattle Times education reporter

With the help of $6.1 million from two foundations, the Washington State
Board for Community and Technical Colleges is launching a four-year effort
aimed at dramatically increasing the number of students who complete
community-college programs.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is providing $5.3 million of the total,
along with $800,000 from the Ford Foundation.

The Gates Foundation views Washington state's efforts as models that could
be used nationally to increase the number of people who complete a degree or
certificate beyond high school. The foundation says only 28 percent of
first-time, full-time students at two-year colleges earn an associate degree
within three years of enrolling.

The grant will help expand several programs in Washington state that already
are getting good reviews.

One is the I-BEST (Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training) program,
which allows students who need to take remedial classes the chance to
combine those studies with career-skills training, and finish much faster
than they would if they had to do the remedial work separately.

The money also will help fund a fledgling program that rewards community and
technical colleges for the success of their students, not just for how many
they enroll.

The grant will help launch two new programs. One is an effort to strengthen
80 key courses most students must take to earn a degree, and to offer those
courses online. In the other, seven Washington colleges will work together
to improve the instruction and support students receive in math classes,
with the goal of increasing the number of students who pass them by 15

The grants are part of the Gates Foundation's new postsecondary initiative.
By 2025, the foundation's goal is to see a doubling of the number of
low-income students in the United States who graduate from college or other
post high-school programs.

Linda Shaw: 206-464-2359 or  <mailto:[log in to unmask]>
[log in to unmask]

Copyright C The Seattle Times Company




Students Missing in Health Plans 

October 14, 2009 

WASHINGTON - The Senate Finance Committee approved its bill Tuesday to
overhaul the American health care system, pushing Democrats' reform efforts
closer to reality, but still leaving plenty of ambiguity in the plan to be
worked out by Congress and the White House.

One issue still unresolved is what, if any, provisions the final legislation
(which, it's widely agreed, will end up looking a lot like the Finance
Committee's bill) will make for college students and campus-based health
plans. As it exists after clearing committee, the Senate bill seems, perhaps
inadvertently, to leave no room for college-provided student insurance

"Congress simply isn't thinking about college students' health care," said
Jim Turner, president of the American College Health Association. "They're
not trying to be malicious, I don't think, but the legislation could
unintentionally be eliminating student health insurance programs."

The Finance Committee's bill classifies plans under two categories:
employer-based group plans and individual policies purchased through an
insurance exchange. College-issued plans are neither. Instead, they're
classified by an exemption to Health Insurance Portability and
Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) which, Turner said, defines them as
"limited duration products."

Last week, Turner and Doyle Randol, ACHA's executive director, wrote to Sen.
Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Finance
Committee, asking for clarification "that nothing in the proposed
legislation is intended to, nor will inhibit or preclude the continuance of
college sponsored (or college self-insured) student health insurance plans
and that colleges will retain the ability to mandate comprehensive coverage
levels for their students."

Jim Mitchell, director of Student Health Services at Montana State
University and spokesperson for the Lookout Mountain Group, which advocates
for student health care, said <>
his organization is also concerned that there's "no room for student
insurance to exist" under the committee's bill. He expressed a sentiment
similar to Turner's, saying that the omission of student health plans "is an
unintentional consequence as they're trying to craft a very complex bill."
Now, like Turner, he simply wants Congress "to craft language that will keep
student plans going."

Student insurance plans were offered at 71 percent of four-year private
non-profit colleges, 82 percent of four-year publics and 29 percent of
two-year publics during the 2007-08 academic year, the
<>  Government Accountability
Office reported in March 2008.

In 2006, the same analysis found, 67 percent of college students aged 18 to
23 received insurance through employer-sponsored plans (most likely their
parents'), while 6 percent were covered by public insurance plans like
Medicaid. Another 7 percent had coverage through non-employer private plans,
including student insurance programs. The remaining 20 percent were

Jim Boyle, president of College Parents for America, said the priority
should be to ensure that private employer-based plans be accepted at campus
health centers since there are, perhaps, 10 college students covered by
those plans for every one covered by a student plan. 

"Many colleges are beginning to require that students buy their health
plans, or are at least not accepting any other private insurance at their
campus health centers," he said. "They're asking these students and their
families to pay twice for coverage just to ensure that the student will be
able to be treated on campus rather than having to go to the emergency room
of the hospital down the road. It's an issue that sits under the umbrella of
college costs, which everyone's concerned about." 

Another point of concern in the Finance Committee's bill is the creation of
"young invincible" policies, catastrophic-only policies available to people
under 25 for less than the cost of a comprehensive plan, which are aimed at
young people who think they're healthy enough not to need insurance, 

Mitchell, of Lookout Mountain Group, said young invincible plans "wouldn't
really give students the support they need . they're low-quality but would
probably cost about the same as more comprehensive student health plans." 

The plans wouldn't cover prescription drug costs, care for chronic illnesses
or emergency room visits, all common health care needs for college students
generally included in student health plans. Based on his research, the plans
would likely cost between $1,200 and $1,500 annually, while many student
insurance plans cost between $1,500 and $1,800. "For a little bit more money
with a campus plan, you'd be getting a lot more."

Ari Matusiak, a co-founder of Young Invincibles, a health reform group
advocating for 18 to 34 year-olds, said such plans would be "insurance they
can afford but insurance in name only," and wouldn't give students the
coverage they need. "There cannot be a distinction between young Americans
whose parents have insurance and those who don't and have to turn to these
lower-quality plans just to have anything at all." His group would like to
see more comprehensive, low-cost plans available for students and recent
graduates who can't get coverage elsewhere.

But for students whose parents are insured, coverage under those plans would
make the most sense, <>  Matusiak said
just hours after speaking at a Tuesday press conference at which Speaker of
the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced the House bill will allow young
people to stay covered under their parents' plans until age 27. Current age
limits vary state-by-state, but most are several years lower than 27. "If
there's any provision that matters most to college students, it's that one,"
he said. "Most college students are covered by their parents' plans and want
to be covered under those plans since they come with little or no cost to

Because of the current state of the job market, he added, "as college
students are getting their diplomas, one thing that is becoming increasingly
clear is . they may experience a time of uninsurance because they're between
school and whatever comes next." The ability to stay on a parent's plan
gives them an easy source of coverage.

Boyle, of College Parents of America, applauded that movement, too. "I think
President Obama wants to see parental coverage extended up through the late
20s and I think that makes a lot of sense," he said.

ACHA's Turner said his group supports provisions to help students stay on
their parents' plans. But, he added, "I've heard anecdotes that students are
losing their health insurance because parents are losing their jobs. If a
school can continue to offer a comprehensive insurance plan that is
reasonably priced, that is critical to covering students who are otherwise
losing their coverage."

-  <mailto:[log in to unmask]> Jennifer Epstein 

nts>  to comments (1) > 

Comments on Students Missing in Health Plans 

*	Self-serving comment by Jim Turner 
*	Posted by Sherman Dorn , Professor at University of South Florida on
October 14, 2009 at 5:30am EDT 

.         I understand that those who run overpriced college-student-only
health plans want to keep their jobs, but Jim Boyle's point is correct: in a
world where far more students will have outside health insurance, national
legislation should not cater to this remnant of in loco parentis
arrangements. On-campus health facilities need to take all insurance, and
the goal should be coverage in reasonably-sized pools... which
college-student-only plans never are. 

C Copyright 2009 Inside Higher Ed 

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Cowardice asks the question, 'Is it safe?' Expediency asks the question, 'Is
it politic?' Vanity asks the question, 'Is it popular?' But, conscience asks
the question, 'Is it right?' And there comes a time when one must take a
position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but one must take it
because one's conscience tells one that it is right. (Martin Luther King,

Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner. Put

yourself in his place so that you may understand what he learns and

the way he understands it. (Kierkegaard)


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(b. 1929)    [Benjamin would be proud, I think.]


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