Tennessee to Offer Skills ‘Warranty’

Tennessee has drawn its share of higher education attention with its Promise program gaining national recognition. A new initiative seeks to further address workforce skills challenges.

The Times Free Press in Chattanooga has the details.

Beginning next fall, new graduates of the Tennessee College of Applied Technology (TCAT) or similar technical programs offering certificates and degrees from state community colleges will come with an eye-catching “warranty” for prospective employers.

If companies can demonstrate the graduates they hire aren’t up to snuff, “we’ll take them back and train them for free,” Tennessee Board of Regents Chancellor Flora Tydings told Gov. Bill Haslam.

Replied Haslam: “I love the idea. … That’s accountability at its finest.”

“It’s exactly what it sounds like,” Tydings told reporters. “If you do not have the skill set for which we say we have trained you, we’ll take you back and retrain you for free – if an employer documents that you do not have those skill sets within a year of graduation.”

Tydings said she doesn’t expect community colleges and TCAT to have to do much graduate retraining because of the job the institutions do.

promise

Dollar Dilemma for Scholarship Programs

HOPE, "Bright Futures" and "Promise" are the names of three state-based college scholarship programs intended to expand higher education opportunities. Each effort, along with those in other states, may fall victim (at least in part) to a series of fiscal challenges.

It’s a combination of lower funding sources, higher tuition costs and expanding enrollments that are threatening the programs. The "solutions" vary, each with its own set of negative consequences.

Stateline.org has the interesting story, including this excerpt.

One possibility is to reduce the amount of the scholarship. Rather than guaranteeing to cover 100 percent of ever-increasing tuition rates, those states now offer students awards at a flat rate. However, it makes college less affordable for many families and disproportionately affects those with lower incomes.

The other option is to reduce the number of students who are eligible for the scholarships. That, too, has negative side effects. Upping academic standards steers awards toward students who are likely to attend college anyway. And it steers money away from lower-income students, minorities and those who are the first in their families to attend college.

Indiana, by the way, established the Twenty-first Century Scholars Program in 1990 to help students from low- and moderate-income families. In recent years, Gov. Daniels proposed privatizing the Hoosier Lottery and using the proceeds to assist all Hoosier students with at least a portion of their public education expenses. A Department of Justice opinion on such privatization scuttled that idea.

Advice for Obama: How to Really Cut Spending

The Heritage Foundation’s Brian M. Riedl and Alison Acosta Fraser offer advice to President-elect Obama regarding how he can keep his promise to issue a "net spending cut." The authors point out that most incoming presidents promise to do so, yet fail when it comes time to make tough choices. They write:

The American people have repeatedly expressed exasperation at the pork, runaway spending, and budget deficits that have plagued Washington during this decade. You were elected President on the promise of fiscal responsibility and a "net spending cut." Scaling back planned "stimulus" spending that would likely fail to help the economy would be a strong first step toward fulfilling your promise. Reforming Social Security and Medicare before more of the 77 million baby boomers begin to collect benefits is also imperative.

The writers also offer some key tips (they’re in bullet points so you know they mean business). Here are a few:

  • Define "net spending cut"
  • Cut farm subsidies
  • Reform entitlement programs
  • Devolve more programs to state and local governments
  • Use PAYGO to prevent expensive new entitlements