The Hill: NSC CEO Andy Van Kleunen Calls on Biden to Appoint an Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges

By Ayobami Olugbemiga, December 29, 2020

NSC CEO Andy Van Kleunen today wrote an op-ed in The Hill, calling on the Biden administration to appoint a community college leader to serve as a newly created Assistant secretary of Community Colleges. “After taming the virus, the most crucial issue facing the Biden presidency will be re-employing the more than 25 million Americans who are out-of-work or have left the workforce completely because of Covid,” Andy writes. “Some of these workers will eventually be able to get back into the jobs they lost. But many of them — particularly lower-income workers and workers of color previously employed in now devastated sectors like retail, food service and hospitality — will likely have to re-train for new, hopefully even better-paying jobs in other expanding industries.”

“To harness our higher education system to be part of the economic recovery effort, Biden should update the org chart at the Department of Education by appointing a community college leader to serve as a newly created assistant secretary of Community Colleges. That assistant secretary should report to Secretary Cardona, if confirmed, but more importantly should also be directly involved with leaders from other agencies — like Department of Labor — to ensure that our nation’s more than 940 community colleges are primed to work with local industry to put millions of unemployed Americans into family-supporting jobs and good careers that will sustain them in the post-Covid economy.”

“This change in the Education Department’s leadership structure would not just help with the current recovery. It would also address a long-standing equity issue in our federal higher education policies which have disproportionately supported full-time students pursuing four-year degrees at high-cost universities, while relegating millions of working adults at community colleges to second-class status.”