When The White House announced last week its “Fair Chance” higher education pledge, it caught the eye of RAMC, in particular our board member Rob Denson, president of Des Moines Community College in Iowa.
The notion of “Fair Chance” is that colleges will make pledges to help those who have been accused or convicted of crimes get a second chance at improving their lives and building their education and careers. According to Denson, a program with his institution’s support has helped to dramatically lower recidivism rates in Iowa and has been embraced by employers in that state who are looking to fill thousands of jobs for which courses, certificates and degrees offered by community colleges can make a critical difference in delivering candidates with needed skills.
According to the White House, colleges, including community colleges, can meet the “Fair Chance” pledge by improving admissions processes, for example by limiting questions on criminal pasts, or limiting the use of such information. RAMC agrees this is a worthy goal and supports the work of students in corrections institutions to learn while incarcerated, as well as to continue their educations after their sentences.