Read the whole thing! After the introductory remarks the Mayor lays out his vision for City Colleges! If there is only one academic school left in a seven school system, who is served?

“We are going to remake our community college system into a skills-based, vocational-based educational system.” Rahm Emanuel

Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s Speech to the Economic Club of Chicago

Remarks As Prepared

John, thank you for the introduction. Congratulations on your victory tonight. Now you have two organizations to lead: the Economic Club and Republicans for Rahm.

John, don’t get your priorities out of order. I’m counting on you.

John has become the leader of an organization that has helped Chicago make the most of its challenges for more than 80 years.

But tonight is unique in the Economic Club’s history. Yes, we have executives from all types of industry. Many of you have helped turn Chicago into the global city it has become.

But I also want to single out the young leaders of Chicago’s future who are sitting beside you. In this room is a sample of the teachers, doctors, lawyers, ministers, and executives, who will shape Chicago in the years to come. Believe me, that future is not too far away.

It seems like five minutes ago I was a kid working for Congressman Paul Simon when he was running for Senate, and later had the honor of working for Mayor Daley. Back then I was brash, profane, competitive, and very young. Now I’m just brash, profane, and competitive.

But I don’t want the young people here to get the wrong idea. Those are not the qualities you need to be Mayor, just the qualities I needed to compete with my two brothers.

When I was growing up, my brothers never would have imagined I would be here tonight, addressing the Economic Club of Chicago. And when I started out in politics, I don’t think the members of the Economic Club thought I would be addressing them as Mayor.

The Economic Club has hosted Prime Minister Tony Blair, GE CEO Jack Welch and President Jimmy Carter.

After World War Two, you invited General Omar Bradley. What made his speech remarkable was how little he spoke of his victories on the battlefield. Instead, he warned that what led to his success would not work for America in the future. He was right. The battlefield was about to change.

In the 1950s, you hosted a young Senator and future president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy. Then Senator Kennedy told the Economic Club that our country’s ties with new nations and emerging markets would determine its future. He was right. Think about that: in the 1950s he saw over the horizon and into the 21st century and the global economy that we know today.

Both General Bradley and President Kennedy made the most of their time here by discussing the dangers and opportunities ahead.

We too have an opportunity tonight, not to dwell on our city’s past, but to look to our future and to build a stronger Chicago.

Nobody respects the leaders in this room more than I do. So I am going to pay you the ultimate compliment: the compliment of candor and honesty.

I’m here to talk about what we must do to rebuild and re-imagine our educational system.

We have the best kids in the world, but when they emerge from the system, whether from our high schools or community colleges, they lag far behind their peers, both in this country and around the world. We are not providing them an education that allows them to live up to their full potential.

That should matter to all of us because these are Chicago’s children. And whether we are from the Northside, Westside, Southside, or downtown, we are one Chicago. We have one future.

The task is enormous but the equation is simple: the future of Chicago hinges on the future of our school system. That is the equation that drives me every day.

We all know this: education is the great equalizer. If you provide people an education, a city and a country will succeed.

I know I’m not the first politician to point that out, or say that changes in education are urgently needed. Some elected officials have said that early childhood is the key – and they are right. Others have stressed strong high schools, and math and science — and they are right.

But when it comes to investing in education, it can’t be multiple-choice. It must be all of the above.

From the cradle to the career, from kindergarten to college—that is where we must invest our resources and our time.

When you look at the educational debate of the past 30 years, there has been a great deal of focus on the early years, the high school years, and our four-year institutions.

What has not been a focus since the creation of the GI Bill is our community colleges, despite the fact that community colleges are where a majority of America’s students go for post-secondary education or training. By overlooking these critical centers of learning, we are missing an important opportunity. And our economy is now showing the strains of these years of neglect.

When employers can’t find skilled workers during one of the deepest recessions in American history, that should tell us something: we have a tool in our arsenal that is not doing all it can for our students. It must be modernized for the new economy.

Our community colleges were a linchpin of America’s post war boom and they are just as critical today.

They are as important to our economic growth and potential as a city as any other part of our educational system. Modernizing them is how we will continue to attract industries and make the most of our strengths. Think about this: there are more students in our City Colleges, 127,000, than in all of Chicago’s four-year institutions combined.

Now don’t get me wrong, Chicago and the state of Illinois have great institutions of higher learning. We know them: Northwestern, University of Chicago, University of Illinois, Depaul, Columbia College, Loyola, Roosevelt, UIC.

We have two of the top five business schools in the country in Booth and Kellogg. We have great law schools. In technology we have IIT, Fermi, Argonne labs, and U of I.

Chicago is also the destination of choice for graduates from the Big Ten States, be they from Madison, Columbus, Ann Arbor, Iowa City, East Lansing, Minneapolis / Saint Paul, Indianapolis, or South Bend.

What we have overlooked in the development of our workforce is the preparation of our own children. We have not developed the educational system that helps our economy grow.

We can no longer allow the practices of the past to sabotage our hopes for the future.

When I talk to CEO’s I hear a regular message from them about their workforce and the skills they need. Whether that’s Pat Woertz at ADM, Glenn Tilton at United, Glen Tullman at Allscripts, Randall Stephenson at AT&T, Jamie Dimon at at JP Morgan, Vikram Pandit at Citibank, or some of you in this room. You all tell me the same thing: from welders, to code-writers, to workers in healthcare and IT services, you need more skilled employees.

We need skilled workers to rebuild our infrastructure, we need them to care for the sick; we need them to welcome the millions who visit Chicago each year in our hospitality industry; we need them to make the products people want to buy; and to write the code that powers new technologies.

But employers can’t find skilled workers and workers can’t find jobs. Like the rest of the country, Chicago has a skills gap.

And we can’t say we haven’t been warned. I want to give you a set of headlines, literally, from just the last four weeks:

From The Wall Street Journal, November 16th: quote — Study finds US workers under pressure to improve skills, but need more support. — unquote

In The Wall Street Journal on November 25th : quote – In an unexpected twist some skilled jobs go begging – unquote

From Crain’s on December 2nd in an article, Closing the tech-skills gap — quote — More than 60% of small businesses are struggling to find skilled applicants. – unquote

From the Chicago Tribune, a week ago, on December 6th: quote – Jobs go unfilled as skills fall flat. – unquote

But I don’t need to read about the skills gap in The Wall Street Journal or the Tribune or Crain’s. I see it and hear about it everyday.

Riding the El six weeks ago, I met a young man who was commuting from Harold Washington Community College where he studies business and computers to his job at a Target warehouse.

That young man is doing everything right. He’s studying, he’s holding down a job. He is doing everything we can ask of him to give himself a better shot at a future.

So when he puts Harold Washington on his resume, that should mean something to his employer. It should have economic value to him.

The basic agreement is you take responsibility, and we’ll provide you opportunity. That young man is taking responsibility but we are not living up to our side of the bargain.

Can we honestly say to ourselves that we are doing everything we can for him, that he is getting the best from us?

When he walks into a job interview, and it says Harold Washington or Malcolm X College on his resume, his hard work should pay-off. If we work together, starting tonight, it will.

Because the young man looking for opportunity and the CEO in the corporate suite, looking for skilled workers, are looking for the same thing.

The community college is the link our employees and employers need, but it has been missing in action.

Companies need workers who make the products, design the products, wire the products, move the products and sell the products – and community colleges can provide them.

As Mayor, I cannot read the headlines about a skills gap, I can’t see it everyday in our city, and say that it’s not my problem.

It is my problem — because it’s unconscionable to me that we can have more than 100,000 job openings, and close to a 10% unemployment rate.

It is because I know that we have exactly what we need to answer the challenge, both for employees and employers, and it is right here under our nose: our community college system.

Let’s be candid: most community colleges offer students what they should have learned in high school. Too often, they provide remedial learning to compensate for gaps in their education. That is not why our community college system was established.

Community colleges were the catapult for the World War II generation coming home from the battlefield, the generation of Americans who became the most productive and economically expansive in American history. They can serve that same function in the 21st century.

At the beginning of the 20th century, a high school education was a necessity for the industrial economy. At the beginning of the 21st century, two years of quality post-secondary education are equally essential.

That’s especially true here in Chicago when you look at our engines of growth: transportation and logistics, healthcare sciences, IT, conventions and tourism, professional services, and high-end manufacturing.

We need our community colleges linked up to those growth sectors. And to do that, we need our industry leaders linked up to those schools.

Because of our central location, we are a transportation and logistics juggernaut, but we cannot rest on our location alone.

The question is: will we train the skilled workers we need to capitalize on the advantages we have?

Because of our private sector leadership with Abbott Labs, Walgreens, Baxter, and Allscripts, and our hospitals, like Rush, Stroger, Northwestern and University of Chicago, we are becoming a global healthcare sciences hub.

The question is: Will we train for it?

Because of McCormick Place and O’Hare, we continue to be a world-leader in tourism and conventions.

The question is: Will we train for it?

Because of Navistar, Ford, and ArcelorMittal steel, we can serve as a national center for high-end manufacturing.

The question is: Will we train for it?

Because of Motorola Solutions, Molex, and GroupOn, we can be the nation’s next hot spot for technology and innovation.

The question is: Will we train for it?

Because we are home to great global businesses like Aon, Boeing and United, and we are home to great law firms, and great consulting firms like Accenture, and great accounting firms like Ernst and

Young, we are the professional services center of the Midwest.

The question is: Will we train for it?

Because we are about to launch the largest infrastructure investment for a city, not just for our water but for our roads, and soon for our mass transit, we will need a strong partnership with labor. We will need workers in skilled trades.

The question is: will we train for it?

And tonight, here in this room, we answer that fundamental question.

Tonight, we charge our community colleges with a new mission: to train the workforce of today for the jobs of tomorrow; to give our students the ability to achieve a middle class standard of living; to provide our companies with the skilled workers they need.

Cities like Miami and Louisville have tried something similar — but in a single industry, with a single school. Miami matched a community college to train students in the healthcare sciences. Louisville has linked a community college with UPS to be a leader in logistics.

But this is Chicago. We need something bigger, more ambitious, and more comprehensive, something to match the diversity and depth of our economy, which is one of our strengths.

So tonight, I am announcing that we will tailor six of our community colleges to train students in a specific sector, where we know we can dominate the future.

We are announcing our first two schools and their partners tonight.

Malcolm X College will be the school that drives Chicago’s leadership in the healthcare sciences.

Rush Medical Center, Stroger and Northwestern Hospitals, Advocate Healthcare, Baxter, Walgreens and Allscripts have agreed to partner with Malcolm X College, to develop their curriculum and train the faculty.

Olive Harvey College will be our center for excellence in transportation, distribution, and logistics. They will work with UPS, Canadian National Railway, AAR, and BNSF, among others. They will be Olive Harvey’s partners in modernizing their programs and providing the training students need to compete in the transportation and logistics field.

As Mayor of Chicago, I can’t protect our city from a global or national recession. But I can address a skills gap – so that no employer, in the middle of a deep recession, is without the employees they must have – so that no worker is without the skills they need to find a job.

We have a dynamic Chancellor of our community college system, Cheryl Hyman, and I’ve appointed each of the six new City College presidents to oversee this modernization.

But this reinvention, and the investments required to make our school-system world class, is something that all of us must be a part of.

Reinvention is nothing new to our city. Chicago went from a remote trading post to a center of global industry. From the cinders of the great fire, our city became a showcase for the world in its architecture.

Chicago did not reinvent itself by itself. Our growth was forged by those who were willing to make the tough choices and the right investments, by people who were not afraid to see the future, with all its challenges, as an opportunity.

Today, we must be those people.

And tonight, I ask you, to be a partner in the transformation of our community colleges.

Every year we will modernize two new schools and match them with partners in the private sector, to train the workers for our factories, for our offices, for our hospitals, for our hotel industry and for our infrastructure.

We are going to remake our community college system into a skills-based, vocational-based educational system.

In the same way that you help Booth and Kellogg prepare their graduates for careers in management and finance, we need you to partner with our community colleges — so that their curriculums meet the needs of the sectors that power the Chicago economy.

I’m not talking about hiring one person or even a partnership. It’s more than that. This is about ensuring that the curriculum taught at community colleges provides the skills you need at your place of employment.

By making a diploma from our community colleges into a ticket to the workforce, we will make them a first option for job training and not a last resort.

I do not expect you to do this alone. Our community college leaders will be right there with you. And whatever you invest in our schools, you will get back many times over in the skills of your employees and your ability to grow.

There is no greater investment we can make in the life of our city, than the one we make in the lives of our students.

And I can also tell you, there is no greater reward.

Meeting young people on the campaign trail or in my visits to schools as Mayor, that’s something I’ve learned over and over again.

Every day our students wake up optimistic about their future. They believe they can achieve great things and so many of them do, sometimes against great odds.

If our students have the strength to turn obstacles into opportunities, surely, the adults do as well.

Some say that a comprehensive investment in all levels of education, in all our communities, is impossible. Today’s fiscal challenges make it more difficult.

Yes we have to set priorities. Yes, we have to make tough choices. And that’s what we’re doing tonight.

But to those who say that we can’t afford to confront these challenges, I say, we can’t afford not to.

And let me tell you something: we’re already doing it in K through 12.

Four new charter-schools opened this year, serving 2,000 more students. Five more will come on line next year. 2,300 more kids attend magnet schools of excellence this year. 6,000 more children have full-day kindergarten.

And this year, at my urging 13 Chicago public schools are offering a full school day. An additional 36 charter schools serving 17,000 students citywide will join them and transition to a full school day next month.

We’ve begun the largest turnaround of our neighborhood schools. Next year ten schools will be staffed by new principals and new teachers, many trained by AUSL, which has a proven record of success.

Beginning next year, every public school student in Chicago will have an additional 250 hours of time on task learning the fundamentals.

At Howe School in Chicago, that means 55 more hours on task for more Math. That’s 55 more hours in reading and writing. That’s 55 more hours on task for our students to study science.

But a full day won’t matter unless we’re willing and able to make the most of it. We need to strengthen the three pillars behind every student’s success: a principle who is accountable, a teacher who is motivated, and a parent who is engaged.

That is the combination that can unlock achievement for all our students, in all our communities.

And if we make those investments in accountability and opportunity, we can ensure that when students arrive at a four-year institution or community college, that they are ready for the next level, to compete and win.

When it comes to modernizing our public education system and community colleges, I will not take no for an answer.

Any business that stands pat as the world changes is a business that’s doomed to failure. And our city has no more important business than educating our students.

Change is always difficult. The status quo is more comfortable.

In seven months in this job, I have come to the conclusion that people hate the status quo … and they are not too excited about change either.

But when the status quo is failing, then change is inevitable. We can resolve to help shape the future or allow ourselves to be shaped by it.

The people in this room tonight are leaders and not followers. And I’m not just talking about the members of the Economic Club. I’m talking about the young people who have joined us.

This is the future of Chicago. For the kids in this room, and the students throughout Chicago, we must resolve to do everything we can to make sure they are successful.

I firmly believe that we can overcome any obstacle if we are willing to confront our challenges with vision and determination. That’s why I ran for the job of Mayor and I believe that’s why the people of Chicago elected me. In the past months we have started the fight for change and, with your help, we will continue it. We can ensure that the future of our city and every student will be unlimited.

We can be sure that our children and grandchildren can be as proud to call Chicago their home as we are today.

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless Chicago.

# # #

41 thoughts on “Read the whole thing! After the introductory remarks the Mayor lays out his vision for City Colleges! If there is only one academic school left in a seven school system, who is served?

  1. This echoes what Obama said in his State of the Union address. They’re clearly reading from the same script. With the promise of more US manufacturing jobs, I understand the need for training workers but I am baffled that Rahm and Pres. Obama seem to be ignoring the myriad students looking to transfer. Years ago, Obama highlighted Jill Biden’s work as a community college professor and spoke of the importance of the community colleges in helping to achieve his goal of returning the US to a top position worldwide with respect to higher ed. He wanted to raise graduation rates to 60% and community colleges would be right there making it happen. Now it seems that community colleges must shift focus to address the tax breaks the companies will be receiving for bringing jobs back to the US. So what becomes of the student looking to get a Bachelors, but who needs some remediation. Many 4-year schools are “outsourcing” remediation. Ideally remediation is outsourced to community colleges but I fear that remediation will be outsourced to for-profit entities. Follow the money. I’m not surprised by these speeches but I am a bit puzzled as to how seemingly more that half of the reinvention goals (1. Increase number of students earning college credentials of economic value. 2. Increase rate of transfer to bachelor’s degree programs following CCC graduation. 3. Drastically improve outcomes for students requiring remediation. Increase number and share of ABE/GED/ESL students who advance to and succeed in college-level courses) are being subverted. Come to think of it, I’m not surprised. For now, as always, my sanctuary is the classroom and working with all of you.

    • The other shoe has finally dropped. The fanfare of the Reinvention Teams Distraction Band has receded to the background. Here comes the huge locomotive, ready to smash everything in its way. Time to make our unions and the Faculty Councils fighting bodies. If not, they might as well become our pallbearers…

  2. Too true, Mathissexy, it was on the horizon when the chancellor spoke at the White House last year.

    So…can we start a pool covering which colleges are next? And what their “diplomas” will be concentrated in? It could ease (or propel) some worries, perhaps.

  3. I’m confused. Will these schools no longer offer gen eds or adult education or developmental classes? What will happen to the students who want these types of courses? What will happen to the faculty who teach these courses?

    • As the mayor said, the business leaders will train faculty to teach their curriculum. When this change is made, the colleges will probably offer some gen ed and dev ed courses, but not enough to fill faculty load. Forget about offering humanities or social science courses – music, philosophy, art, world history, anthropology, psychology, literature, have no place in the vocational world. Remember, employers don’t want their employees to think, but to do as they are told. Just watch this video that is very popular in the corporate world for getting employees to go along with the corporate desires:

      [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2Ei9qCwxsM&w=560&h=315%5D

      It sounds like there will only be one college offering transfer courses, so students from other colleges that want to go on to a 4 year school will all move to that one college – sounds like it might be HW. Faculty across the district who do not want to retrain to be vocational teachers will request transfers to HW. HW does not have the classroom capacity to serve all of these students, and will not be able to offer enough courses to fill the load of all the full time faculty. Faculty will be RIF’d according to the contract, beginning with those lowest in seniority. Keep in mind that we have district-wide seniority, so as soon as someone gets RIF’d, they have the right, according to the contract, to demand retraining in another discipline. This means that not only do you have to worry about seniority within your discipline but also the seniority of every faculty member in the district. This means that HW faculty will be RIF’d to accommodate faculty from the other colleges. And if you are an adjunct, forget about it. You’ll be the first to go.

      So, how will all of this effect our students? Well, the mayor and the chancellor are basically saying that our students are not capable of pursuing higher education, and should be satisfied with a vocational career. At least that way, they will be contributing members of society. This denigrates our students to the nth degree. Instead of providing access to higher education, which is the foundation and mission of community colleges, we will be limiting our students to low level jobs, with little to no opportunity for career growth. This is social injustice at it’s finest.

      I’m not against partnering with businesses to provide smooth transitions into careers for our students. I’m not against creating more vocational paths for our students. What I am against is the City Colleges of Chicago telling the students of Chicago that they can achieve no higher than that, that they should settle, that they shouldn’t dream big, that they don’t need to be educated, but trained with a specific set of skills – skills that limit their opportunities for career advancement or career change.

      • Thank you UsuallyConfused for your words. I can’t imagine all of this coming to pass but I didn’t expect admin to essentially change our mission either. I agree that there should be more vocational paths, just don’t limit our students with only that option.

        What type of vocational school could HWC be? Perhaps a Business school, training secretaries for the law firms in the area? Watching “Who Moved My Cheese” could be part of the curriculum!

    • I completely agree with you What? said. I understand that changes do need to be made and soon, but I don’t really think this is the best solution. It sounds good for the economy for the most part and will definitely help people land more jobs, but like you said what about the students that are interested in taking gen eds, developmental education or adult education! What if some students don’t know what they want to major in, which a lot dont! Will they have to drop out until they decide since every school will focus on a specific field? What if a student decides to go to a school and ends up switching their major, how would the credit transferring work? Would the classes even be transferable?

  4. The future of a city depends on its economic; the economic of a city depends on its employment; the employment of a city depends on its residents’ ability; the ability of its residents depends on it’s education system. Because of all of these, the way to built a perfect city is to improve its education system.

  5. Mayor Rahm Emanuel can change community colleges’ system “into a skills-based, vocational-based educational system,” but can he change the way students learn? All schools have a diverse body of students with different capabilities; some might learn faster than others, or some students might suffer disabilities that lag them behind. Mayor Emanuel needs to keep in mind that these people are also part of the future he is worried about. Therefore, he should start worrying less about our economy status for now, and more on including programs that would help these people improve their learning capabilities because they too are going to help “shape” and improve the economy of this city.

  6. I have to admit, “Welcome to the Spotlight” was a very interesting news article. I understand that the Mayor of Chicago has been trying to support college students by providing “qualified employees with the jobs that Chicago employers cannot fill”. What this means is that the Mayor of Chicago will try his hardest to make sure students from City Colleges of Chicago the benefits they deserve as a student with higher level courses.

    What might be wrong about this is the idea. I believe that this “program” (that will supposedly help the education) will somehow increase the tuition payments per semester. In my part, I highly disagree with the idea of managing course of specific majors to be certain about a better education. I understand that one reason in doing this is to help the people of Chicago overcome several goals at one, but keep in mind that not all staff in Chicago want to be restrained as vocational employees; it’s obvious that 70% of school’s staff will prefer to continue consuming money, therefore, is possible that there will be high percentage of staff members (specially teachers) who will decide to transfer from one school— to another. How will this plan end? Preposterous! This will affect both students and staff members.

  7. MLHERN,I don’t think we have to worry much on those who learn differently and have disabilities. If they don’t understand something they can ask their teacher, go to a tutoring program, and other programs that help those with disabilities. Many of the city colleges offer these programs so I think it is time to worry on our economy. If there is no good economy, there are no money for good schools, and if no good schools no good education, and if no good education not good education for the community.

    • I am so sure that our mayor is really worried about those who learn differently or have disabilities. The resources to help those students will be the first to go under the guise of training the next generation for the future. The next generation does not include those who are “other abled” but rather those who can fit into a narrow definition of vocational workers. Sad that our city leaders have no real understanding of the people of Chicago.

  8. Who does this really benefit?? Yeah exactly not the students. Why are we shutting down students aspirations. Not to mention what will happen to all of CCC professors. We need them! This has to be a joke. I am dissapointed that someone who is knew to Chicago can try and speak for all students. Students deserve a chance to prosper into something better than a skills based career. Not to mention City Colleges needs all the help it can get; colleges are at capacity to the point where there is no real customer service for the students. Trying to set a date for tutoring is impossible, and forget it if you need to actually contact the school for any questions or concerns…no one will ever answer the phone!!! Not trying to sounds negative, I myself am a product of CCC and I have big plans to move on to Nursing School next fall. I am so sad by the fact that our DON is actually impressed with Rahm’s new ‘visions,’ for CCC. I wonder if our DON or Rahm Emmanuel would advise their own children to settle for a mediocre jog. I guess its true, only the rich and elite have a real chance to prosper into something bigger….. NOT THIS GAL.

  9. When I was young and fresh out of high school I went straight to a university. My head wasn’t really in it, and my priorities were completely backward, so it’s no surprise that I failed many classes and wound up dropping out. I am now thirty years old and after far too many years in the service industry, I would like to get an education so that I may begin a career I can care about. Because of my past failures in college, I wouldn’t be able to get into a traditional four year college, so I started at Harold Washington. Community colleges give people like me the chance to start over.

    I can see where the mayor is coming from, in a way. He wants to improve the economy by pumping out more skilled workers, and while that is a commendable goal, I don’t think that co-opting the city college system for this task is a good idea. There are vocational and technical schools all over the Chicago area. Maybe the goal should be to expand them to allow more students to complete their certifications there. Yes, community colleges do play a role in vocational training, but my fear is that by expanding those programs, the academic programs will have to be pared back. The students that need academic training will suffer.

    Part of the problem is that the city colleges are often seen as a failure. The graduation rate is low, but graduation rate isn’t the only indicator of success in the world of community colleges. Many of my peers at this school plan to transfer to a four year university without ever getting an associate’s degree. This is a common practice among community college students. I know this doesn’t tell the entire story of the poor graduation rates, but my point is that one cannot understand the impact that the city colleges of Chicago have by looking at graduation rates alone.

    The education system needs an overhaul, that is a given, but restructuring our academic institutions to train skilled workers is moving in the wrong direction. Too many students begin college without the basic skills needed to learn on a college level. The obvious solution is to start younger. Improve the elementary schools and the performance of middle school students will improve. Improve the middle schools and high school performance will improve. What would happen if we then took it further and improved the state of our high schools? Might the graduation rates for college students improve as well? Too much blame is being places on the city colleges for what is a major problem at all levels of education

    The mayor’s new plan seems like more of a distraction than anything else. Rather than tackling the tougher issues facing education as a whole, he’s implementing this “smoke-screen.” He has done some good. I think that extending school hours is a good thing, but it must be taken further. More time in the classroom won’t mean anything if the quality of the education received does not improve.

  10. Welcome to the Spotlight was very interesting to me. The Mayor has been trying to support college students in many ways. I think it is great that he is trying to help student by making sure city college students get benefits that they deserve, especially if other students get them there is no reason why we shouldnt enjoy them as well.
    What i dont think will work is the fact of the mayor trying to change the way students learn. Everyone learns differently and dont think that someone can just change that.

  11. Our Mayor Emanuel gave a wonderful speech. After reading this article I understand that he said our city needs more good skill workers. To become a good skill workers we need a good education. When I was in high school I saw the board of education cancelled the summer programs because of money. Now Chicago’s economy is not good. More than 10% employees don’t have jobs. It is a good idea to change community colleges’ system “into a skills-based, vocational-based educational system,” but how he can change the way students learn? I am agree with MLHERN. I think they can put more money on education and continue the program that help students because students are the future of the country. I believe in the future the economy will be improve.

  12. Mayor Emanuel’s whole speech talked about education and skill workers. I believe he can change the community college system into a skills based, but the problem is like most of the community college students comes from different country. Every student learning style is different than other. Some can understand quick and others are not. My English is not good and I am still learning English. Sometimes I have to read something twice or more. Then I can understand better. The economy is not good now, but later it will be improved. We need to continue our education. I think the gov. need to continue those programs that help students to learn and understand better. He said, Chicago needs more good and skills employees. In the article, he gave some examples. He has long term goals.I support him and I think it will help us to become a good skills employee. Also, the last thing I want to say is may be one day everyone will be proud to call Chicago is their home city.

  13. To me it felt like Mayor Emanuel was saying that the people of Chicago should not want to get any futher education than a certificate is a spicified skill. Some students may want to do this but what about the students that want to acheive a higher education goals or the students that chose a community college as a way for them to catch up to the college level and need more of the one-on-one attendtion that is offered more than at a university.

  14. I believe this plan would be a good idea because it would give students an opportunity to actually work in the field they are interested in. But on the other hand, only two colleges were mention. So my question is, will the other colleges be included? and will all the teacher and faulty be able to keep their jobs? If this plan does fall in place, I would have to transfer to Malcolm X college to work with health care representatives. I also believe that Mayor Emanuel was saying that in order for employers to find qualified employees, the employees have to be forced and have to work hard so that the employees would be able to get the jobs that they want.

  15. I’m somewhat puzzled as to why Mayor Emanuel decided to make Chicago’s community colleges into a “skills-based, vocational-based educational system.” In brief summarized words, Emanuel is telling community college students not to have dreams of higher educational status. Most of the students attending city colleges come from low-income minority backgrounds; so is Emanuel stating that minorities aren’t making it in the real world so train the students for corporate low level jobs? Instead of providing a chance to acquire a higher education for students, they’re now being limited to this level of education. I find this very un-American; I see no land of opportunities with this choice but a settlement of socialism.

  16. There are many reasons people attend community colleges, whether here in Chicago or elsewhere, but the two main reasons are always the same: vocational training, or as a springboard to a four year university, or other higher education. According to Mayor Emmanuel, there is a shortage of skilled workers and a surplus of unemployed worker who lack the skills needed to compete in our job market. Attempting to close this gap is worth while, just so long as doing so doesn’t short-change the CCC students looking for a more liberal arts education, and choosing one doesn’t eliminate the opportunity for the other. I imagine the vocational training will require a certain amount of academic fundamentals, but if all the city colleges campuses convert to strict job training programs, the one school that remains purely academic will become overcrowded. Hopefully, a good balance will be set that offers opportunities for all those looking for vocational training to work at the companies who are desperate for skilled workers, and those looking to transfer to a four year university. If this move turns out to limit academic opportunities for some students, which many of the responses here suggest, it would not be in the best interest of the City Colleges, or the city of Chicago to go through with this. Balance is the key, and time will tell whether this shift will pay off.

  17. I think it is a fine idea. Community colleges offer an alternative for the student whose parents cannot afford the tuition, or for the student who qualifies for financial aid. It’s all about how much you put into wanting to succeed. You get out what you put in. When you go to apply for a job with a “degree” from a community college and are up against other applicants from better, high level schools, who application get thrown out? Everybody should know that it takes all kinds of education and educated people from all levels of life for a technological and industrial based economy to grow and run correctly. The Community colleges is designed to provide a skills set in a 2 year courses to just get in the door to keep thing running, while the 4 year universities provide the knowledge and know-how to design the things the people from the Community college are running, while the people with 8 years of education invent new things to make the world a better place. Trying to help out the students at the Community college in trying to gain some skills is never a bad idea. The only thing better the mayor could do is somehow make it cheaper for us college students.

  18. Mayor Emanuel’s vision is very bold and there is definitely a skills gap that needs to be addressed. While I agree with him that change is necessary and inevitable, turning all the City Colleges into specialized schools is not the answer. The students who attend these community colleges do so for many reasons. Being a student at HWC, my sympathies lie with the students and the teachers at the City Colleges. What will happen to them with all these changes? What about their needs? By the time these new implementations go into effect, I will already have completed my 2 years here and have transferred back to the 4-yr university that I could not succeed in previously. I worry about others who are in the same position I was in. If I did not have HWC to turn to, where could I have gone to further my education? Mayor Emanuel talks about making tough choices, but the results will directly affect the students who want to become more than just a skilled worker. I think Mayor Emanuel needs to fully address all the issues at hand before going full steam ahead.

  19. The Mayor’s speech pinpointed a lot of goals for developing our educational future. Our future, as in the young people of the world. We are the ones who can make a change. We are the people who the next generation is counting on. These goals are not going to happen overnight. This topic of constructing better educational systems is going to take time, but with patience and a little help from everyone, we can make it happen.Not only is this going to affect me in a positive way, but also the following generations after us. I have two younger brothers and when I read this speech, I was happy to know that the Mayor was going to combine major businesses with community colleges to help train students in their field. Although I am a bit upset that Harold Washington wasn’t on his list this year, I am looking forward to the partnerships we have yet to know. I come from a working class family, and with this said, I am thankful that people like Rahm Emmanuel make it easier for people who have a rough time getting an education.

  20. well i think its a great idea that city colleges of chicago get to major in something.This change might affect some teachers and some students but i think it would be beneficial to a lot of people like me. its a great thing that people get to focus on their major in city colleges. at the same time i think the mayor is using this to distract people from the main issues.

  21. One of the good things that he said was the extension of hours for some schools which will provide more education and learning to students. Its a good thing that the mayor is trying to focus on community colleges first, but what wasn’t very convincing was the idea that they think that many students aren’t getting a higher education. Also, by saying that they will make community colleges in a vocational system so students learn some skills might be a good idea, but not limiting students goals by saying that they can fill in some low skill jobs.

  22. I think it’s great that the mayor is focusing on community colleges more. This means that people will actually be able to focus on a major at a specific community college, but what will happen to people only wanting to take their gen eds? I find that it’s an excellent thing that they will extend the school hours more because there are some kids in school that need more help on a specific topic and they can’t get the help they need. It might take the mayor some time for him to accomplish these goals, but I can see them happening.

  23. Mayor Emanuel’s plan transform City Colleges Chicago into vocational training machines is certainly good for business and unskilled workers but it also has unintended consequences for everyone else. For the twenty-six year old delivery driver who muddled through high school only to land a job driving a truck for a beer distributor, the community college represents his last link to upward mobility when and if he eventually discovers that he has more to contribute to society than his mundane job allows. In his speech introducing his transformation plan Mayor Emanuel’s said, “Let’s be candid: most community colleges offer students what they should have learned in high school. Too often, they provide remedial learning to compensate for gaps in their education. That is not why our community college system was established.” His sentiments towards the burden community colleges experience while attempting to compensate for gaps in education were affirmed by Don Lackman, the president of Harold Washington College, in his blog response to Mayor Emanuel’s plan when he wrote, “CCC and Harold Washington can no longer toil in the backwaters of higher education.”

    At this very moment the City Colleges of Chicago are crammed with 127,000 students compensating for gaps in education and toiling in the backwaters of higher education. While each of them took a different path to get there, almost all have one thing in common. Each of them is a product of the public school system and graduated lacking the academic skills or social economic support necessary to begin at a four-year college. The statistics demonstrate that many of these students won’t make it and for them, maybe Mayor Emanuel’s plan of focused vocational training will prove to be a better option. But I also have to wonder about the very student Mayor Emanuel describes in his speech. The young man who currently works at a warehouse while attending a city college to study business and computers. What will become of him in a vocational focused training program? Well, considering his business competition will hold MBA’s from Booth and Kellogg his chances of breaking into the executive suite at a fortune five hundred company wielding an associates degree from Harold Washington City College are minimal. Not to worry though, at least he can go onto become a happy computer programmer, right? Maybe and if so, good for him but maybe he wont. What if after spending seven years repeating monotonous programming task in a cubical he wakes up one day feeling as though the only difference between him and the afore mentioned delivery driver is their annual salary. Only time will tell but the point is that many Americans take the wrong career paths early in their lives and community colleges play a vital role for those who haven’t given up on improving their lives as adults. A person’s ability to get into a four-year university and continue onto graduate school should not be exclusively limited to those who performed well in high school. Bridging the education gap by providing the remedial education for those who did not achieve academic excellence as teenagers is something that community colleges should be proud to do. Turning out associate degrees in diesel technology might be great for Caterpillar, but not so much for the individual trying to better their life by bridging their way into a four-year university. In closing the educational gap and breaking into the more lucrative professions for which a bachelor’s degree is required, these Have Nots are often the first in their family to enjoy the benefits that many high school valedictorians grew up with.

    The mayor and the city college presidents might be onto something though. If they don’t feel like they can adequately provide the foundation of a four-year university education at all of the city colleges, they should pool the resources and designate one college to closing the educational gap. Though it might sounds far fetched, imagine one college with a single focus on transferring students to a four-year university. If it works for the transportation and health care industries, shouldn’t it work for education too?

  24. i don’t like this idea at all. as a student at a community college who is planning on transferring, i feel like we are being ignored. i think the city college should be able to set students up for any career they choose, they should give them a chance to follow their dreams, not just set them up to work in a warehouse. basically he is just referencing all the industries in chicago that make a lot of money and trying to feed students into them. we should have more of a choice.

  25. Mayor Emanuel’s speech brings up an array of very valid points.

    Yes, the City Colleges of Chicago hold a strategically significant place in the city’s academic arena. Their accessibility and capacity naturally lead to that status.

    True, the classes offered at the City Colleges do tend toward the remedial on occasion. As a student at Harold Washington College in his first semester, I have already seen evidence of this, and Emanuel’s concerns in this area echo my own. Unfortunately, this is likely a product of a curriculum’s need to appeal to the lowest common denominator, the weakest link. With a student body so massive, this is nearly unavoidable lest the schools willingly sacrifice those struggling to break into the mental median.

    However, this proposal to gear the schools toward a vocational-based school system is one I cannot abide.

    For starters, as Renee pointed out before me, this proposal disregards those that intend to transfer to 4-year institutions. With the grossly inflated price of tuition at 4-year institutions in America, starting out at a 2-year college is a necessity for students like me who lack the funds to finance a 4-year run at the former. For the mayor to suggest training all students to become employees for these businesses is a slap in the face. It is a blatant appeal to the interests of the big businesses with the students left as an after thought.

    If the mayor is so concerned about training Chicago’s workforce, he should save some of that charter school money to build a college or two specifically for a skills-based education. As for the rest of us, we did not unanimously sign on to CCC to simply be herded into the workforce.

  26. The changes that our mayor is trying to do are not good for some reasons. one of them is that not every student have the same way to learn the subjects. It’s very difficult to change this because we are not just talking about just one nationality, In Chicago there is a big diversity of students and not everyone learns in just a specific way.
    and another reason is that what about the students that plan to transfer to a four years university? I believe that this idea of the mayor needs more details and explain more clearly how this plan would work for every student that is attending to the City Colleges of Chicago.

  27. I’m concerned because I wonder if teachers and students may lose their jobs or not have enough schools to choose from. It sounds like a school or two may be closed. On the other hand I do like the mayors vision for the city colleges. It makes sense but I believe we still need a city college that is universal meaning it would teach all subjects and not specialize in a certain area. Students who are undecided with their future need something like this. In a sense sometimes change is necessary in order to make things better but I know myself and others are uncomfortable with change. Maybe this is what I fear. I’m transfering to a four year university after this semester so this probably won’t affect me much but it does concern me for others. I am concerned but optimisic and hope for a better CCC future!

  28. I appreciate Rahm’s ambitious nature in revamping the way the structure of the education system in Chicago is operating. However, I believe HASTE MAKES WASTE. His plans for the CCC is remarkabely aggressive and insensitive to the needs of the 4 year transfer student. Can status no longer be achieved? If you can’t afford a University level education should you be doomed to a vocational curriculum or should you have a choice? Why not just be assigned a career and a City College at birth? If this were to save the economy is it worth young peoples dreams. I don’t know where Rahm went to school, where he grew up, how much money is parents made, but what if his only option was to attend a City College where only vocational skills were offered? He most likely wouldn’t be mayor and I wouldn’t be writing this. So Rahm I leave you with this farewell – Keep up the good work you friggin communist hipocrite, I hope you get a ticket in the mail by one of your speeding cameras because you’re speeding through this school zone.

  29. It’s great that Mayor Emmanuel is worried about the future of CCC students but, turning the colleges into a vocational educational system does not seem to be beneficial for all. With his proposed cuts, what’s to happen to the student to wants to continue on to a four year institution? We will then need to attend an extremely expensive university straight out of high school. What will happen to the students that are not academically or financially prepared? I personally was not ready to attend college right out of high school and after some years decided to enroll. I like the affordability of being able to attend city colleges for an associate’s degree and then being able to transfer into a university with it. On the other side this is great for the students who are seeking a vocational career since they will now have a more options to choose from.

  30. I think that Mayor Emmanuel is making an ok point here, but to me the point of community college is to get your grades up and get into a 4- year university. With this economy i wouldn’t say the problem is that they lack skill but people just dont want to work hard now a days as they used to.
    “We are going to remake our community college system into a skills-based, vocational-based educational system.” I do not agree with this quote at all,
    i believe that community college is fine how it is right now.

  31. I am glad that I am transferring out of Harold Washington either this year or next year and so I will probably not be affected by this. I do feel bad for future students whose only option for college is the CCC system. If six of seven CCC schools focus mostly or exclusively on vocational courses many students will be left with fewer options. Students who would prefer to take general education courses or get a degree in a non vocational major would be left without the opportunity to take such courses or study such a major. This change would be unfair to poor students and students who weren’t admitted to a four year school. I think they should have the same opportunities as students that are able to go to a four year university and that includes the opportunity to take general education courses as well as the opportunity to study a non vocational major. Many CCC teachers will be left jobless if the classes they teach are gotten ridden of, that also seems unfair to me.

  32. Ok, where do I begin? I feel that there is a total disconnect between what Rham/ Obama are advocating, and what is actually going on here. Here is a list of the top jobs in the nation: http://money.usnews.com/careers/best-jobs/rankings/the-25-best-jobs

    Take a second and check out the list. These are jobs in which people will be working between now and 2020. If you look at the list, they are things that ALL require TRANSFER. To work in Information Technology, you must transfer. To work in the Healthcare Field, you must transfer. To work in business, you must have a bachelors and also an MBA. To be a teacher, you need to transfer and get a degree. When Rham says “infrastructure,” I think of someone being an Engineer. Skilled labor just means that we have the doctors to help the Baby Boomers, we have the Computer Science majors to write code, and that we have Business People to raise through the ranks and become CEOs. I guess I just see “Skilled Labor” as providing students with the education needed to actual get a high paying job.

    All of these transfer degrees require a Bachelors, and let’s be honest; in today’s economy it is becoming almost essential to have a Masters. Back in the day, someone without a degree could raise up though the ranks and working in Banking or Insurance. No longer. They will usually take the person with the bachelors.

    There is a Transfer Center on almost every campus. One of the pillars of Reinvention is transfer. The General Education Core Curriculum (GECC) requires about 38 or so credits in the AA and AS that are general education classes. That means that we will always need faculty to teach a liberal arts education.

    I think a lot of people have a problem with the word, “vocational.” I get it. He could have said career. In fact, if he had said career, it would have been a better choice. I agree. However, all of his actual examples were careers. Working for Argonne is a career. Working for AT&T is a career. Working for Ernst & Young is a career. Working for Boeing, yup, it’s a career. His examples are careers.

    I just thought I would share. It’s normal to feel the way that everyone feels. Change is hard. I don’t always like it either. Maybe I just see things differently because everyone who walks into my office in the Transfer Center wants to be a doctor, engineer, researcher, lawyer, teacher, or nurse. I would like to think that HWC would not hire 20 new professors just to cut them with RIFs. They hired them because we needed more professors. Not less.

    I like this dialogue and friendly debate. If you do not agree with me on these issues, that is fine. We all have the right to our opinions. Have a good night, all. Respectfully signing off.

    Ellen Goldberg

  33. Oops, I just have spell checked my post, Sorry Rahm. I didn’t mean to spell your name wrong. It was an accident. Have a good night.

  34. There seems to be a huge push for IT but doesn’t HW lack in IT faculty? Who is doing the work if not faculty?

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