NDN Statement on Barack Obama's Agenda to Strengthen Community Colleges

Today the Presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama unveiled an exciting new plan "to strengthen America’s community colleges and make it easier for high school graduates to go on to college and get the skills they’ll need to succeed in the 21st century economy.”

We are proud that Senator Obama’s campaign is advancing a plan that includes key elements of an innovative idea recently proposed by NDN’s Globalization Initiative – federal grants to U.S. community colleges to provide all American workers free access to Internet and computer training.

This idea was recently set forth by Robert Shapiro, Chair of NDN’s Globalization Initiative, in his NDN paper, Tapping the Resources of America’s Community Colleges. Dr. Shapiro has proposed providing federal grants to America ’s 1200 community colleges to defray the costs of keeping on-site computer labs open and staffed by computer instructors for an additional 30 hours a week, during evenings and weekends. Free computer or Internet instruction would be provided to any adult visiting the lab during those hours.

We, like Senator Obama, believe this plan is essential to ensuring that globalization works for all Americans. According to Dr. Shapiro, “Tens of millions of Americans graduated high school or even attended college in the years before computers and the Internet became ubiquitous. Many of them are now entering, or are already in, what should be their most productive and highest-earning years. But without basic information technology skills, many workers are trapped in dead-end jobs, and as non-wired employment becomes obsolete, they face being locked out of the mainstream workforce entirely.”

We look forward to working with Senator Obama to help promote this innovative, cost-effective, ready-to-deploy plan that utilizes our country’s existing educational infrastructure to provide all Americans access to the skills they need for 21st century success.