Remarks by President Biden in a Roundtable on the American Rescue Plan - The White House

State Dining Room 3:25 P.M. EST THE PRESIDENT:  Thanks for being here, everybody.  This is important, and I appreciate you being willing to come and tell your stories. I wanted this to be a conversation about what the impact of the $1,400 that our plan has for every American out there, and to make sure that I understand what you think is important about it, if you think it’s important. And I also want to — you know, the people you’re about to meet, the millions of people who are going to help with this — I think — with this check, that’s going to make a big difference in terms of their lives.  And people in the country are hurting right now, with less than two weeks from enhanced unemployment checks being cut out.  And 7 million kids don’t have enough food; 13 million people are behind in their rent.  And the American Rescue Plan, I believe — and according to the polling data, the vast majority of Americans believe — is essential to giving them some help and to turn it around. A

Waubonsee Community College announces partnership with UIC College of Nursing - Chicago Tribune

Waubonsee Community College announces partnership with UIC College of Nursing - Chicago Tribune

Waubonsee Community College announces partnership with UIC College of Nursing - Chicago Tribune

Posted: 27 Nov 2020 12:00 AM PST

"The UIC College of Nursing has long been dedicated to educating nurse leaders throughout the state," said Terri Weaver, dean of the UIC College of Nursing, in a press release. "Now, through this partnership, we can make a meaningful and almost immediate difference in growing the nursing workforce across the northern region of Illinois at this critical time in health care."

Amazon's New Model For Higher Education And Workforce Development - Forbes

Posted: 18 Dec 2020 12:00 AM PST

Last week my son Leo asked what might be considered an existential question of e-commerce: Is Jeff Bezos wealthy enough to buy one of every item for sale on Amazon AMZN ? One search revealed that the world's wealthiest person can easily afford to buy every item in inventory at his company's warehouses (easily, as in 10 times over). But that's not the same as one of every item for sale. Amazon has an inventory of about 12 million items, but 350 million items listed on the site, which explains why – unlike the fancy French restaurant Mr. Creosote shambles into in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life – Amazon doesn't have a "one of everything button" for indecisive customers (and why you can't get it "all mixed up together in a bucket").

Like no prior Christmas, 'tis the season of Amazon. Christmases past have been scarred – at least according to Fox News – by the so-called War on Christmas. If there is such a war, the decisive battle will be fought when the ease of online shopping and package delivery overwhelms the holiday, when a cataclysm of cardboard makes it hard to see the tree or "stockings hung by the chimney with care," and when the classic poem is revised:

I heard Bezos exclaim, ere he drove out of sight—

"Happy Amazon to all, and to all a good night!"

Of course, Covid Christmas only bears a passing resemblance to Christmases past because frontline workers are powering America through the pandemic. So far this year, Amazon has hired nearly 500,000 new workers, the vast majority warehouse team members, picking, packing, and sorting orders for shipment. According to Brookings, there are about 50 million jobs that only can be done by showing up and interacting in real-viral-time with co-workers and customers – almost exactly 1/3 of all jobs. So while 2/3 of us sit more-or-less safely at home, the other third – including workers in healthcare, manufacturing, and Amazon warehouses – have been risking their health in order to pay rent and put food on the table. And among frontline workers, they're the lucky ones; 10 million from food service, retail, and travel are newly unemployed and struggling with rent and food.

The situation seems redolent of revolution. Perhaps the only thing stopping a new American Revolution is the American Dream – the idea that toil will be rewarded with upward social mobility. But Brookings' new Mobility Pathways tool provides evidence of what we all know to be true: unsustainably low mobility for the vast majority of frontline jobs. As Brookings notes, frontline jobs do not have clear "pathways into occupations that have added jobs" during Covid.


Tautologically, low mobility for frontline workers is the result of too much friction on the path from here to there. But despite stated do-gooder (if amorphous) missions of public and not-for-profit postsecondary institutions, groundbreaking efforts over the past 50 years to reduce friction for frontline workers and establish smoother pathways to good jobs have actually come from the place that gave birth to Amazon: the private sector. The narrative isn't without bumps or sins. And the last chapter hasn't been written yet.

The first attempt to reduce friction for frontline workers was the advent of convenient campuses at highway interchanges and at shopping malls in the 1980s and '90s. Private sector institutions pioneered commuter route campuses – as well as the concomitant, omnipresent, and aggravating highway signs –offering accelerated programs in the evenings and on weekends and making higher education more accessible for millions. The misstep was free federal funding allowing these schools to get greedy. Rather than taking a few months' tuition for short training programs leading to good jobs, why not capture years of tuition via degree completion? After all, aren't degrees what respectable colleges and universities offer? Over time, avariciousness led to full degrees. (Why settle for two years of federally-funded tuition when three or four are within reach?)

Version 2.0 was online degrees. For the first decade of the new millennium, millions of frontline workers were drawn by the convenience of attempting to earn degrees online. The problem was that inexpensive asynchronous online courses – the ones favored by private sector institutions willing and able to spend thousands of dollars per federally funded student on digital marketing and enrollment call centers – didn't engage frontline workers, who may not be adequately prepared, and whose motivation to persist and complete is often overwhelmed when life gets in the way (as it does). Any reduction in friction gained as a result of improved access was lost in terms of completion, which put the mockers on the whole thing.

Version 3.0 of friction reduction was getting employers to pay for online degrees for frontline workers. For decades, large employers offered tuition reimbursement to employees. Then Guild Education pioneered selling tuition reimbursement as a retention strategy for frontline workers, using a slick online platform to connect Chipotlerians to online degrees from a network of non-selective universities. But because Guild and its imitators explicitly sell employers on immobility (i.e., employee retention in frontline jobs), and given continuing friction from unengaging online courses and a lack of connective tissue between degrees offered and good jobs, swapping the FAFSA for tuition reimbursement doesn't accomplish much in the greater scheme of things.

While modest reductions in friction for frontline employees may have been acceptable in less perilous times, 2020 calls for dramatic innovation. Like everything else this Christmas, that innovation is being delivered by Amazon. Career Choice is Version 4.0 and a huge step forward, providing Amazon warehouse team members with the lowest friction pathway yet.

Amazon's Career Choice program has three trailblazing, friction-reducing features:

1) On Site

"All newer Amazon warehouses have fishbowl classrooms just off the floor," Ardine Williams, Amazon's VP of Workforce Development told me in an interview last week. For programs not delivered in warehouse classrooms – i.e., online programs from community college partners, or during Covid – Amazon coordinates study cohorts in warehouse classrooms. "We have much higher success in online programs with this cohort model."

2) Faster

While Career Choice does provide some associate degree programs, Williams and Amazon recognize that "adult learners prefer faster pathways." So in stark contrast to postsecondary institutions attempting to maximize tuition revenue, Career Choice privileges shorter certificates.

3) Connection to Local, Open Jobs

Career Choice training is only offered for local open jobs that pay at least 10% more than Amazon's $15 per hour. "We can't assume team members are interested in relocating," said Williams, "so we don't train for jobs that aren't available in the community." As a result, while Career Choice offers 20 distinct training programs around the world in tech, healthcare, and transportation/logistics, "not every program is available at every site."

As one might imagine for a company that tracks hundreds of millions of shipments each month, every element of Career Choice is tracked, "including whether team members are moving into the roles they've trained for." So Williams says Amazon has also partnered with staffing companies and hopes to release new versions of Career Choice that further reduce hiring friction for tech, healthcare, and logistics employers and narrow the gap between program completion and a better job.

By reducing the friction of getting to class – or the friction of unengaging asynchronous online programs via on-site cohorts – by shortening the pathway, and by better connecting training to available jobs, Career Choice is helping frontline workers in greatest need of socioeconomic mobility; more than half of the 30,000 Career Choice participants to date are underrepresented minorities.

While colleges and universities that have been asleep at the switch for frontline workers will struggle over the coming years to continue their meagre contributions (new low-friction pathways for frontline workers simply aren't on cabinet agendas), and while so-called one-stop workforce centers that are supposed to help 10 million newly unemployed frontline workers actually involve multiple stops (and starts and stops), Amazon has established a new paradigm for both. To see what a clear pathway to good jobs looks like – to see a true one-stop – displaced and disgruntled frontline workers should head out to the nearest Amazon warehouse.

I recently received an e-mail titled "Better connecting learners to jobs." But due to a typo, the message actually read: "Better connecting learners to jokes." This is a fair description of the status quo for frontline workers. But Amazon's effort is an important step forward. By reducing friction for frontline workers in these three ways, Career Choice is a viable solution to "train and pray."

While the heroes of Christmas pick and pack at Amazon's warehouses, policymakers are packing and picking student loan debt forgiveness: $10,000 or $50,000? It seems this decision will be made without regard to how much student debt is actually held by frontline workers vs. those who already have a secure footing on a career ladder (or who may have borrowed for graduate and professional degrees). Until we figure this out, we won't know whether debt forgiveness is a step forward, or likely to prompt further anger and resentment from the frontline workers the Biden administration wants to help.

A better approach than picking and packing is poking and prodding Amazon's competitors and other large employers of frontline workers to replicate Career Choice. Not every major employer of frontline workers will invest more than $60 million and hire a talented leader like Ardine Williams (formerly a captain in the U.S. Army, where they remember what socioeconomic mobility looks like). So perhaps the Bidens – Joe and Dr. Jill – will see the value of providing financial incentives so companies like Guild can launch big businesses setting up and managing Career Choice copycats.

If the government won't step in, another option is rankings. Rankings by U.S. News and others have perverted higher education for decades, incentivizing selectivity and investments in inputs that put the brakes on what was once America's engine of socioeconomic mobility. U.S. News and its parasitic pals can make amends by ranking companies by how much they invest in the socioeconomic mobility of their frontline workers. Millions of online shoppers would use such rankings to make buying decisions – Career Choice influencing consumer choice.

McDonald's MCD likes to promote itself as America's Best First Job. Amazon Career Choice makes that a laughable Ho Ho Ho. While earlier versions of pathways for frontline workers kept them in stasis, Career Choice is designed to reduce friction and increase mobility. Williams acknowledges doing so is in her interest; it makes Amazon a more attractive place to work, which makes it easier to secure the motivated frontline workers Amazon needs to save Christmas. In a dark year, those of us receiving Amazon shipments this season – for their sake, hopefully not one of everything – can feel good about that.

FRCC graduates first bachelor’s-in-nursing students - Boulder Daily Camera

Posted: 23 Dec 2020 05:28 PM PST

Front Range Community College has been a part of Amy Larabee's life for nearly 20 years, since she started working her way through prerequisite courses to become a licensed practical nurse in 2003.

Now Larabee — a Firestone resident, full-time nurse and mother of four — is one of the first people to graduate from Front Range's RN to BSN program, which enables registered nurses to obtain their bachelor's of science degree in nursing.

Larabee became a licensed practical nurse in 2007 and a registered nurse in 2017. She now works at a sub-acute rehabilitation facility, which serves patients who don't need to be in the hospital while recovering but aren't yet independent enough to go home.

"I've known I wanted to be a nurse since I was little, probably six years old," Larabee said. "My dad was in the military and he had a procedure and I was in the hospital, and I saw a nurse and thought, 'Wow, I want to be like her.'"

Front Range's RN to BSN program was made possible through a bill passed by the state Legislature in 2018 that allows community colleges to offer degree completion programs for registered nurses. Becoming a registered nurse requires a two-year degree, and the program allows registered nurses to turn that into a bachelor's degree through additional classes and training.

The health care industry is facing nursing shortages across the country, said program director Edith Matesic.

"When the bill was passed there was data showing there was a shortage of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in Colorado, and they predicted there would be a 4,500-nurse shortage by 2024, and a lot of those are leadership roles," Matesic said. "There is also a correlation between higher education for nurses and better patient outcomes, higher quality patient care and fewer preventable deaths."

With additional liberal arts, science and clinical training, nurses build critical thinking and a better understanding of the human condition and how to help people through the health care system, Matesic said.

The program also relieves some of the pressure on traditional four-year colleges and universities that have waitlists for their nursing programs, Matesic said, and can serve as a stepping stone for nurses who want to pursue more advanced degrees.

"They're also so excited because it opens up so many opportunities for their future careers, and we need them," she said. Front Range currently has 40 students in the program and, because it's online, doesn't see the need to limit enrollment, Matesic said.

For Larabee, getting her bachelor's degree was a natural next step but doesn't change what she loves most about her job.

"What I love the most is working with people," she said. "I like knowing I can make someone laugh when they're feeling down."

Antioch University Launches Online BS Degree in Environmental Studies, Sustainability, and Sciences - PRUnderground

Posted: 23 Dec 2020 02:07 PM PST

Industry: Education

The program is designed to prepare the next generation of environmental professionals while building environmental leadership in historically marginalized communities.

Yellow Springs, OH (PRUnderground) December 23rd, 2020

Antioch University is set to launch a Bachelor of Science Degree Completion Program in Environmental Studies, Sustainability, and Sciences to be offered in a 100% online format. The program was established to offer an accessible, affordable, academically rigorous bachelor of science completion degree that educates students to deal with the impacts of a changing climate. The course work pays special attention to issues of equity and justice, particularly as environmental hazards and climate change disproportionately impact low income, Black, Indigenous, communities of color, and other historically marginalized groups throughout the United States and in other countries.

"No one disciplinary approach will solve the complex environmental and justice challenges of today or in the future," said Dawn Murray, PhD, Environmental Studies, Sustainability, and Sciences Program Director. "We must challenge learners to think for themselves, commit to exploring the messiness of seeking interdisciplinary solutions, and envisioning the world as interconnected, holistic systems."

The coursework is 100% online, but students may opt into Field Study electives to extend and deepen their learning and professional development. The program values an interdisciplinary focus on social and natural sciences, conservation, education, resource management, humanities, and social justice, which promotes systems thinking, environmental scholarship, and stewardship.

"The Environmental Studies, Sustainability, and Sciences degree emphasizes practitioner preparation and service to new majority and first-generation students," said Terry Ratcliff, EdD, Antioch University Provost for Distance and Extended Education. "It builds on Antioch's nearly 170-year social justice commitment."

Students are taught by diverse and engaged faculty with expertise and passion for sustainability, science, advocacy, and leadership. Courses include conservation science, culture and ecology, ocean science, and environmental ethics. The optional field studies courses will consist of professional development at environmental conferences, opportunities to engage in policy and advocacy work, and conservation initiatives. Up to 75-semester credits can be transferred into the Environmental Studies, Sustainability, and Sciences program allowing students to complete the degree in 18-30 months. The program starts in January 2021 and has six entry points per year.

"Time is of the essence for the next generation of environmental studies students to develop the knowledge, skills, and networks to lead as effective environmental professionals, strengthening communities and ecosystem health," said Abigail Abrash Walton, PhD, MS in Environmental Studies Program Director, Antioch University New England. "Core to this work, the BS in Environmental Studies, Sustainability, and Sciences program emphasizes practitioner preparation, including awareness and skills to advance justice, equity, and inclusion."

About Antioch University

Antioch University provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, racial, economic, and environmental justice. Inspired by the work of pioneering educator Horace Mann, Antioch University includes a Graduate School of Leadership and Change; Antioch Online; and campuses in Keene, New Hampshire; Los Angeles; Santa Barbara; and Seattle. A bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education, Antioch University is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)3 institution and accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

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