Issue 582: 8 / 24 / 2015
Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam to Visit Southwest Kicking Off the Inaugural Year of the Tennessee Promise
Governor Haslam’s upcoming visit to Southwest is centered around the inaugural year of the historic Tennessee Promise (TNPromise) student financial assistance plan. It’s designed to provide two years of community college or technical school tuition free for any student graduating from a Tennessee high school in May 2015, effective fall 2015, who also meets other eligibility requirements.
The governor will initially visit and address one of our Academic Success Seminar classes on the Macon Cove Campus and then deliver a main address to business leaders, elected officials, and the college community in the first floor open area of the Bornblum Library around 10:30 a.m.
Gov. Haslam, in support of his “Drive to 55” initiative designed to increase the number of Tennessee residents with two-year degrees and above to 55 percent by 2025, unveiled the Tennessee Promise (TNPromise) plan during his State of the State Address on February 3, 2014. It was passed by the Tennessee General Assembly and signed into law on May 13, 2014. This initiative is a key catalyst for the governor's plan to significantly enhance future economic development efforts in the state.
The Greater Memphis Alliance for a Competitive Workforce (GMACW) along with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton and Shelby County Mayor Mark Luttrell held a legislative briefing at Southwest’s Macon Cove Campus on August 12. Members of the Shelby County State Legislative Delegation, Memphis City Council, and Shelby County Board of Commissioners were invited to learn about the transformative work GMACW is undertaking to improve the workforce in Shelby County.
GMACW was created as a result of the Regional Economic Development Plan, which was completed in November 2014. The goal of the agency is to align educational programming for K-12 schools, community colleges, and training institutions with the skills needed by businesses in the region.
Southwest President Tracy D. Hall greeted the assembly emphasizing Southwest’s commitment to serving the community. “We are working hard to serve the needs of our community. … I tried to stress to our faculty and staff that we are here to serve the students and we are here to serve the taxpayers. … It's not about what we want. It is about what the students need and what the community needs,” said President Hall."… Our mission is closely aligned with GMACW."
Mayor Luttrell underscored the importance of aligning the area's educational model to meet the demands of the workforce saying, “We are really focusing on the importance of aligning the needs of our workplace with the work of our education system. … The problem isn't so much the lack of jobs as it is the people qualified for the jobs.”
From a policymaker’s perspective, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton stated, “Foremost in the minds of policymakers is a qualified workforce that is competitive – and that is the key word "competitive" – not only merely locally but most certainly regionally, nationally and internationally.”
GMACW President and CEO Glen Fenter facilitated a presentation on the agency, plainly denoting its mission statement: That Employers have the talent that they need to compete and that people have the skills that they need to get good jobs.
Obtaining a good job, he pointed out, – one capable of providing a family-sustaining wage – has become the ultimate standard for educational adequacy.
Fenter indicated Memphis has the highest percentage of disconnected youth in the nation; totaling more than 44,925 teenagers and young adults between the ages of 16 to 24 – nearly one in five people in that age range. Individually, they cost taxpayers $13,000 a year.
He also conveyed that by the year 2018, almost two thirds of the jobs available in this country are going to require something beyond high school and not necessarily a four-year degree. But higher education systems are still funded on “the paradigm that everyone needs to have a four-year degree, a big issue not just in Tennessee but all across the country,” Fenter stressed, prescribing a shift in educational models to reflect the needs of the workforce.
“I can promise you that nothing GMACW's going to do in terms of our ability to bring synergy and efficiency and effectiveness to some of these [educational] models is going to be anywhere nearly as important to the future of our community as what we can do with Southwest, and I certainly am excited to be working with you and look forward to the challenge,” said Fenter.
He outlined GMACW's Five Core Functions:
- Generate ‘Best in Class’ workforce trends data: Document, analyze and publish regular data on local hiring trends, employer skill requirements, and labor supply.
- Strengthen educational alignment to promote a pipeline of skilled workers for the future.
- Address employers’ short-term hiring needs. Connect employers in target sectors to high quality workforce solutions to address immediate hiring and training needs.
- Create enthusiasm for local career opportunities and provide a digital roadmap for accessing and navigating them.
- Bring in major external funding for workforce development efforts in the Memphis region. Leverage private dollars to bring in more state and federal dollars.
As part of the application for graduation process, Southwest students are asked to complete the Career Services graduate survey regarding their current employment status and future education plans. Based on the information provided, Career Services can suggest helpful career and employment resources. Interested in also capturing satisfaction feedback from students just before they leave Southwest, the following question was added to the graduate survey in late 2013,
“How satisfied are you with the education that you received at Southwest?”
Students were given the following response choices: 5 – Extremely Satisfied, 4 – Very Satisfied, 3 – Satisfied, 2 – Not Satisfied, and 1 – Extremely Not Satisfied.
Between late 2013 and early 2015, surveys were collected from a total of 845 soon-to-be Southwest graduates.
The good news? Average student satisfaction levels ranged from 4.09 to 4.19 depending on program type, with an average ranking over all programs of 4.14 or “Very Satisfied”.
Southwest’s Corporate Training and Continuing Education/Workforce Development Department offers New Everyday English – English as a Second Language (ESL) - I and II. Program Manager Kathy Simpson recently wrapped up an ESL- I class taught by instructor Meredith Flynn at the Maxine A. Smith Center. “LOL! Meredith Flynn said, ‘You would have thought they were receiving a Ph.D when they were called one by one to accept their certificates,’” Simpson proudly commented.
ESL- I is a beginner course specifically designed to develop everyday English skills for non-speakers to limited proficiency. Emphasis is on listening and speaking for effective and independent participation in everyday survival, work, and social communications. ESL- II continues to develop more advanced listening/speaking and reading/writing skills to enhance everyday communication.
The Scoop interviewed Flynn to find out what makes ESL classes so successful:
- What are the ethnicities of the students you teach? - There is a wide variety of ethnicities in every ESL class. The first class was highly diverse with individuals from Senegal, Syria, India, and Central and South America as well.
- How much English do they initially know? - Most have a very basic understanding of the English language. This can vary depending on the person of course. I would say individuals in the ESL-I class have difficulty understanding and conversing in English.
- What do they learn in the class? - My goal of this course is to provide the students with the tools they need for everyday tasks. Things like asking directions and recognizing signs, going to the grocery store, learning common sayings and American holidays, filling out forms and applications, and building grammar and vocabulary are some of the main objectives we have in the class.
- Is it difficult teaching people of different ethnicities in one classroom setting? - Everyone is in the same position no matter where they are from and deal with the same challenges. Every culture is different, but they are all there with the same goal. Just like in any class, students learn from each other, as well as from the instructor. Having different ethnicities and cultures is exciting and always a learning experience for me as well! It isn't as difficult as one would think since everyone is working toward a common goal.
- How effective are the classes? - The class is a very basic and broad introduction to English and American culture and customs as well. If anything the class is effective in exposing students to a new culture. … The class is effective for students by introducing them to basic English and giving them more confidence to interact with the general public.
- What are next steps for your students? - The majority of the class is interested in seeking employment. They want to be able to complete an interview and communicate with their co-workers, etc. Some students are interested in pursuing more education as well.
- What feedback are you getting? - Students are enjoying the class and learning as well! Many of them seem to want more classes and a longer class schedule. That is something we are working on now to meet these requests. Most of them agreed that six weeks was not quite long enough for a class. Hopefully we will have a longer duration in future classes.
- Please add anything else you'd like to say. - I work very hard to create a comfortable learning environment. The difference from the first class to the last class is incredible to see how the students grow self-confidence in their English, especially with their speaking skills. Many students have never been in a classroom setting speaking English and are extremely shy and self-conscious in their English skills. I try my best to play plenty of games and incorporate numerous fun ice breakers to get everyone at ease. It takes courage for students to simply walk through the door and into the classroom and I recognize that. It may be baby steps for some, but for many it a huge leap into a new world with limitless opportunities.
View more photos.
Southwest is a recipient of the THEC Ready to Reconnect $50,000 grant program designed to increase retention and graduation among adult learners.
Southwest’s approach, entitled Adult Learner Link (ALL), will use a three-pronged approach of meeting the adult learner’s emotional and physical needs coupled with meeting their social needs which will help fast-track them on to their ultimate goal of an undergraduate degree. By providing counselors, an innovative and comprehensive model of transitioning from poverty to self-efficacy, intrusive coaching and an on-line community suited solely to their needs, the Southwest adult community will be poised for increased success.
Submitted by Doug Branch
Director of the Honors Academy
New and returning Honors Academy students gathered on August 20 for an orientation at which they got acquainted and learned more about the program.
The Honors Academy is a club and academic program designed for students who “want to get more out of college than mere grades” and offers students the opportunity to earn the prestigious Honors Diploma at graduation.
Reprinted from The Jackson Sun
By Randy Hutchinson
President of the Memphis BBB
Millions of people have downloaded apps to make their shopping experience more convenient and to save money. They may not, however, understand the risks such apps could pose to their wallets and privacy.
Shopping apps allow consumers to compare products and prices, ferret out the best deals, and pay for purchases at the checkout counter with their phone. A U.S. News & World Report article described apps that let consumers:
- Set up alerts so they’ll know if an item they want goes on sale.
- Gather coupons from more than 65,000 grocery and drug stores.
- Scan the bar code on a product to determine if there’s a better deal somewhere else.
- Browse over 350 virtual catalogs.
Many users, however, don’t fully understand how the apps work. In releasing a report titled “WHAT”S THE DEAL? An FTC Study on Mobile Shopping Apps,” an FTC official said, “Consumers should not be left in the dark about their potential liability for erroneous or unauthorized charges or about the way shopping apps handle their data.”
The FTC surveyed 121 shopping apps across the Google Play and Apple App Stores. They included price comparison apps, “deal” apps, and in-store purchase apps. Some apps performed multiple functions. In many cases, they failed to provide pre-download information that consumers would find important.
Some purchase apps pass charges through to credit card or bank accounts, which would generally preserve rights associated with those cards. Federal law limits liability for unauthorized transactions made with credit or debit cards (more protection for credit than debit).
Other purchase apps let you store value with the app and use it to make purchases. Federal law does not limit liability for prepaid cards or accounts. A consumer paying through an app using a pre-funded balance might not have any protection if an unauthorized charge is made or a problem develops with a purchase.
The report found that purchase apps frequently failed to tell users about dispute resolution procedures and disavowed any responsibility on the part of the app developer if anything goes wrong with the purchase.
A majority of the apps had privacy disclosures, but often used vague language that reserved broad rights in how consumer information could be collected, used and shared with third parties. Some reserved the right to share information without restriction.
The FTC says that technology advances in smartphones offer the potential for increased data security and encourages app developers to use them to protect consumers. Strong data security promises should translate into strong data security practices.
It also recommends that app developers:
- Disclose consumers’ rights and liability limits for unauthorized, fraudulent or erroneous purchases when using apps that facilitate making payments through mobile devices.
- Clearly describe how they collect, use and share consumer data.
Consumers who use shopping apps should:
- Look for the dispute resolution procedures and liability limits of the apps they download; and consider the payment methods used to fund their purchases. If the information isn’t available, use alternative apps or limit the dollar amounts used to fund stored value accounts.
- Before downloading an app, seek information about how their data will be collected, used and shared. Weigh the convenience of the app against the risk sensitive information will be stored or shared by the app developer.
Keoshia McGhee, a two-year starter at forward for the Southwest women’s basketball team, has signed with Texas A & M International University in Laredo, Texas to continue her education and basketball career.
McGhee, a Memphis native who came to Southwest from Douglass High School, led the Lady Saluqis in rebounding in each of the past two seasons including an average of 10.8 per game as a sophomore which also ranked her among the TCCAA and NJCAA leaders. She posted high games of 26 points against Chattanooga State and 21 rebounds against Volunteer State and led the team with 11 double-doubles (points/rebounds). In addition, McGhee was the team’s second leading scorer with an 11.0 average and led the team with 1.5 blocked shots per game.
Angela Hardy, who played forward for the Southwest women’s basketball team from 2012-14, has signed with Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee to continue her education and play both basketball and volleyball.
Hardy, who came to Southwest from Douglass High School in Memphis, averaged 3.7 points and 3.8 rebounds as a freshman in 2012-13 and 3.7 points and 2.7 rebounds per game as a sophomore in 2013-14. She had high games of 13 points and 10 rebounds against Shawnee in her freshmen season.