Bloomberg Takes a Cue from Obama

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
When my colleagues and I crafted our Brookings blueprint on community college reform earlier this year, one of our greatest hopes was that federal leadership would spur real changes at the state and local level. More specifically, we hoped that if President Obama spoke out on the important role played by community colleges, and came forward with a proposal to substantially ramp up their resources, he wouldn't be alone. The message-- and the money-- would travel.

At least that was our hope. Call us naive, but really that's the best way to scale up change.

So we were all incredibly psyched to read in August 14's New York Times that New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged $50 million to that city's community colleges-- provided he's there to give out the money during a 3rd term of course.

According to the Times, "Mr. Bloomberg’s four-year proposal calls for graduating 120,000 students by 2020 from the city’s six community colleges, a 43 percent increase over the 84,000 students that are currently expected to graduate by that time, his campaign said. Nationally, President Obama has allocated $12 billion aimed at getting 5 million more Americans to graduate from the nation’s 1,200 community colleges by 2020."

This is a welcome shift in attitude from Bloomberg, whom (at least as I understand it) hasn't exactly made life easy for community colleges so far. I'll be in New York several times this fall, and look forward to learning more about exactly how that city's community colleges feel about his intentions. Stay tuned...