NYSUT OCCFTA Endorsement Questions:
What role should a community college have within Onondaga County?
A community college should be a piece of the backbone for the fight to end poverty, of any community it represents through (aside from the obvious duty of education) outreach, resources and other assistance related to human and social services. As a government entity, It should be a force for democratic and civic education as well, ensuring that those who graduate have the necessary knowledge and skills for participating in civic dialogue and action off campus and back in their municipalities.
A statistic reports that community colleges “enroll almost half of all U.S. undergraduate students and are essential for work force training and retraining”. OCC must continue to provide opportunities to receive a post-secondary education to many students who would not have attended college otherwise, and not be primarily focused on the goal of entrance to a 4-year degree program, but on the benefits and opportunities of an Associate's Degree.
Specifically, what ways do you see Onondaga Community College contributing to the greater Onondaga County community and economy?
I will give two examples of my own work and advocacy currently. First, I have resurrected interest, and am proactively pursuing, membership with NACCE - the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship. My goal is to use the NACCE association, resources and leadership to grow our OCC SBDC capacity and and outreach, for providing self-employment opportunities to the thousands we serve in our region. This is all summed up in the NACCE vision and mission:
Vision: Creating Economic Vitality Through Entrepreneurship
Mission: 1. Empower the college to approach the business of leading a community college with an entrepreneurial mindset; and 2. Grow the community college’s role in supporting job creation and entrepreneurs in their local ecosystem.
Second, I am working on a draft of a grant prospectus to the Alliance for Economic Inclusion funding RFP just released by the county for a share of $30 million from the Upstate Revitalization Initiative award. The funds in this case would enable the creation of an employee-owned business development program at OCC through the SBDC. This is an important initiative because Onondaga County, just like so many other locations, will be seeing a large transfer of business assets when the Baby Boomer Generation reaches maturity in 10-15 years, and it would be a benefit for us to be able to convert as many of these to worker-owned businesses to save and stabilize the jobs, businesses, and neighborhoods they are located in.
How would you address the funding gap that exists between the current level of local sponsorship and the statutory obligation for the County to contribute 1/3 of the College's operating expenses?
Between 2008-2016, state spending per student in New York has dropped by 6.4% (equivalent to $670). We as a community must decide that it is needed to make the necessary budget expenditures to invest in our youth and our human capital of our residents through a healthy and fully funded community college. As such, and as part of my role as City Councilor and NYSUT steward and delegate to the Greater Syracuse Labor Council (whom I have also been formally endorsed by), I will use my positions to aggressively advocate for full sponsorship funding by Onondaga County. I will also continue to campaign for passage of the NY Health Act - http://nyhealthact.com/ - “The New York Health Act would provide comprehensive, universal health coverage for every New Yorker and would replace private insurance company coverage. You and your health care providers work to keep you healthy. New York Health pays the bill.”
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