Work ongoing on “middle college” promise
When a state like Rhode Island is trying to attract high-paying jobs, one incentive it can offer a company is a skilled work force. That was the idea behind a campaign pledge by Gov. Lincoln Chafee to develop an early introduction to college, known as middle college.
"This program will give many more students, especially those enrolled in career-oriented trade schools, the opportunity to attain a quality education and full employment," he said on his campaign website.
The idea is to allow high school students to get a taste of college life, attending college-level courses and earning college credits, even as they are getting credit for their high school graduation. This would extend the program beyond just top students, who have long been able to take such courses through advanced placement programs.
Chafee spokesman Michael Trainor said the governor was inspired by an unsuccessful 2009 proposal by then-Connecticut Gov. M. Jodi Rell to link the state's vocational-technical schools to Connecticut's community college. The goal was to let those students earn college credits in key job skills as early as 10th grade.
Rell cited a 2009 Brookings Institution study that predicted that 45 percent of the jobs in the next decade would require more than a high school education, but not necessarily a four-year degree.
Trainor said there have been four meetings on the issue -- the latest on April 6. They included sessions with officials of the Community College of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the University of Rhode Island, along with George Caruolo, chairman of the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education.
During those sessions, education officials pointed out that there are existing programs designed to encourage high school students to give college a try.
"This review has made the governor aware of a number of programs that may fall under the umbrella of Middle College, specifically the multitude of summer programs at a number of the state's institutions of higher education," said Trainor. "The governor is evaluating a subsidy program to encourage more high school students to take advantage of these summer opportunities to pursue further education and improve their career prospects."
There's been no definitive action, so we'll rate this promise as "In the Works."
ChafeeForGovernor.com, "The First One Hundred Days Plan for Jobs," accessed April 11, 2011
CT.gov, "Governor Rell: Middle College Proposal Will Keep Connecticut a Work Force Leader," March 9, 2009, accessed April 11, 2011
Emails, Michael Trainor, Chafee spokesman, April 8, 2011
Email, Christian Vareika, deputy press secretary, Chafee office, April 13, 2011
Briefing folder, "Middle College," acquired April 11, 2011