"Getting more students to the 'college degree' finish line is certainly important," says Debra Humphreys, vice president for communication and public affairs at the Association of American Colleges and Universities, which comprises public and private colleges of every type and size. "But it is engaged learning programs ... that will ensure that students actually have the skills and knowledge they need to succeed." In a blog post on the association's Web site, she cites programs at Miami Dade College and LaGuardia Community College that foster lifelong learning and student ownership of education as examples.
And while the focus of Tuesday's summit was the administration's commitment to students' success, politics and the 2010 midterm elections did enter the discussion too. Speaking out against congressional Republicans' "Pledge to America" that was released last week, Obama said the GOP would cut education funding by 20 percent in next year's budget. "It would reduce or eliminate financial aid for eight million college students, and it would leave community colleges without the resources to meet the goals we've talked about today," the president said. "That just doesn't make sense.