Hispanic legislators examining trade schools

The National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators (NHCSL) passed a resolution at their annual National Summit in San Antonio, TX on Nov. 13 urging the Department of Education to keep access to career colleges an option for Latino students and carefully tailor its proposed "Gainful Employment" rule to remove the industry's bad actors, and to increase overall quality for Latinos seeking higher education.One of three panel discussions at the summit was dedicated to a discussion on higher education and policy options for preserving the benefits that career colleges provide even as the Department seeks to institute new rules. "Career colleges play an important role for many non-traditional students, many of whom are Hispanic," said Sen. Iris Y. Martinez, NHCSL president. "We applaud the department's efforts to address the bad actors in the career college industry. But Hispanic students disproportionally rely on financial aid to go to school and we worry that the proposed rule will have unintended consequences that will negatively affect Hispanic students. We have followed the issue very closely throughout the year and urge the department to establish a commission to further study the impact the rule will have and develop a more comprehensive approach to this issue." NHCSL believes that career colleges have proven to be a key entry point to higher education for many Latino students who might otherwise find post-secondary education unattainable and passed a resolution asking the department to consider several concerns: 1. The issues of remediation, student benchmarking and testing and clear rules for disclosing student debt responsibilities must be key components of reform. 2. The ultimate rule must not deter college-going for our most vulnerable students and families. 3. We should not take an unfair or slanted view to career programs, like culinary arts or graphic design, among others, which attract many students who begin college more economically vulnerable. 4. A rule must increase quality of higher education, not simply take away funding for programs that either don't, or can't meet graduate salary goals within a few years of graduation. 5. In evaluating a "gainful employment rule," if this remains the measure ultimately used, then the economic realities of the college-goers and their intended occupations must be considered in order to ensure we do not impose an elitist or simply inapplicable standard on those seeking careers with lower pay. The resolution can be found at http://higheredu.nhcsl.org/the-resolution/. Contributed by the National Hispanic Caucus of State Legislators.

********** Published: November 18, 2010 - Volume 9 - Issue 31