By Dr. J.D. Rottweiler
Cochise College welcomed faculty and staff back for the 2015-16 academic year this week. Since the college faces an important accreditation milestone this fall, the focus was on “Measuring Up at Cochise.” I shared some statistics on the state of education in Arizona, something that keeps me up at night.
According to the Arizona Board of Regents:
- Fifty-three percent of Arizona high school graduates are not eligible for admission into the state’s public universities.
- Fifty percent of Arizona high school graduates enroll in a postsecondary institution immediately following high school, a college-going rate that is 40th in the nation.
- After six years, about 26 percent of that graduating class has earned an associate’s or bachelor’s degree.
The following news was published in “The Arizona Republic:”
And records from community colleges indicate that among all publicly funded education sectors in Arizona, the community college sector has seen the greatest percentage decrease in state support – 70 percent – with two institutions no longer receiving any support.
What does this mean for the future? I don’t know, but it would be unfair to pretend it’s not happening. The day after I caught myself sighing with relief that my own family is almost finished with high school, I set up meetings with all of the superintendents in Cochise County to talk about what we can do for all those who are to follow. The future rests with us; state funding is less and less reliable. These are the types of challenges all of Arizona’s educational institutions face, and anyone with a stake in the state needs to know.
Cochise, for now, must focus on its reaccreditation through the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which, as an external reviewer, evaluates the quality and sustainability of the college, conveying confidence to the public and future students. In just a few weeks, the college will submit a written case demonstrating that its mission guides operations; that it operates with integrity; that it provides high-quality education, wherever and however its offerings are delivered; that it demonstrates responsibility for the quality of its educational programs, learning environments, and support services, and it evaluates their effectiveness for student learning through processes designed to promote continuous improvement; and that its resources, structures, and processes are sufficient to fulfill its mission, improve the quality of its educational offerings, and respond to future challenges and opportunities.
Public access to the report will be provided.
As we measure the state of education in Arizona, it’s clear that Cochise College has a role to play. Measuring its effectiveness will help sustain quality and hone efficiencies for the good of students. They are our future.
J.D. Rottweiler is president of Cochise College. Contact him at email@example.com.