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Community Colleges Urged To Step Up Minority Aid

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Community colleges are not doing enough to educate members of minority groups, and those and other institutions, including the schools, should increase their efforts to insure the success of students and staff members of color, a panel of the American Association of Community Colleges has concluded.

Community colleges "must take the necessary steps to make good on historical promises of access and opportunity at their institutions,'' says the report, which was released last month by the A.A.C.C.'s Commission to Improve Minority Education.

Minority students' participation, recruitment, retention, and transfer rates to four-year institutions, as well as overall campus climate and representation of minority faculty members, need to improve at community colleges, the commission argued.

The panel called on all sectors of society to collaborate in solving problems in the education of African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and Asian/Pacific Islanders.

For community colleges to be more successful in the recruitment, retention, and advancement of minority students, faculty, and staff, "significantly more students need to make their way successfully through each stage of education--from pre-kindergarten to graduate school,'' the panel said.

Community colleges enroll between 44 percent and 59 percent of the college undergraduates who are members of the four major minority groups, according to the report.

The study also notes, however, that the percentage of associate degrees awarded to members of the four groups grew less than 1 percent between 1984-85 and 1989-90, while the proportion awarded to AfricanAmericans fell by 0.4 percent.

In its nearly 60 recommendations for action, the panel urged that:

  • State governments provide funding for initiatives for minority students and review policies on standardized tests to insure the tests do not harm minority students.
  • State governing boards require annual reports on minority-student access, achievement, and retention and on staff affirmative action.
  • College chief executives recruit students from nontraditional settings in the community and arrange for transportation between minority communities and the campus.

Copies of "Making Good on Our Promises: Moving Beyond Rhetoric to Action'' are available for $13 each ($10 for A.A.C.C. members) from A.A.C.C. Publications, P.O. Box 1737, Salisbury, Md. 21802; (202) 728-0200.--M.L.

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