Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Equity and Access Issues: A Discussion with Yolanda Moses

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

Equity and Access Issues: A Discussion with Yolanda Moses

Article excerpt

Note: about the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE): AAHE is a membership organization dedicated to promoting the changes higher education must make to ensure its continued effectiveness, especially in the area of student learning. AAHE administers special programs in areas such as assessment and quality initiatives; partners with other organizations and institutions; produces relevant books, directories, bulletins, and other publications; and holds conferences. AAHE was founded in 1969 and currently has a membership of almost 10,000 faculty, administrators, and students plus policy-makers and leaders representing foundations, businesses, government, the media, and accrediting agencies.

This interview is the second in a series devoted to minority CEOs whose background, knowledge, and experience may offer a glimpse into the secrets to propelling talented minority students toward the highest levels of achievement.

Nancy Carriuolo (N.C): Journal of Developmental Education readers share AAHE's interest in equity and access, an interest that I understand has been heightened since your appointment last year as president. In "Scanning the Environment" (Moses, 2001), you report on trends in higher education that you gleaned from 9 months of conversations with educational leaders across the country. One of those trends is "the new national imperative for universal higher education." Since developmental educators work mostly with nontraditional, underprepared students, this imperative appears to move developmental educators front and center stage. Please tell us what research and policy implications you see for developmental educators under this new imperative.

Yolanda Moses (Y.M.): As you know, national data indicate that more and more students are taking some form of developmental education. According to a 1996 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, 29% of university students and 43% of community college students take one or more developmental courses. With the increasing diversity of the population and the increasing need for all workers to have some college education, those figures will rise. Effective developmental education is becoming increasingly vital to the success of more and more students.

In the 1980s, A Nation At Risk (The National Commission on Excellence in Education, 1983) criticized K-12 and alarmed the public. The report also had repercussions in higher education. Suddenly the public pictured large numbers of students as unqualified for higher education. In reality, the problem was more subtle. Public schools were engaging in different levels of preparation, depending on the wealth of the community and the way that the board of education viewed the student pipeline to college. Some schools were doing a fine job of preparing students for college, but they weren't preparing all students for college.

Now in 2001, the public interest is viewed as being best served if we-as President Bush says-"leave no child behind." In our knowledge economy, almost the entire workforce must have some postsecondary education or training. The issue is not just about social justice. The issue also has economic implications. Quality preparation of our workforce affects the quality of life in the United States. The business and educational communities can come together over this issue. Over 30 years of research in developmental education-a vast compendium of what works-must move from the margins, where discussions of developmental education have been held, to the center of academic planning and policy making.

N.C.: Policy-making is-or should be-based on research, so let's talk a bit about research now.

Y.M.: So-called nontraditional students are fast becoming America's traditional student. We need to learn through research about the needs of all newcomers to American higher education. How do we accommodate their learning needs? Part-time students are also increasingly becoming a major factor in campus demographics. …

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