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Oct 27, 2019

NAACP Statewide Convention Endorses Students First

The resolution notes that Students First takes important steps toward closing the equity gap at the state’s community colleges while maintaining access

The Connecticut State Conference of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Branches 54th Annual Convention on Saturday passed a resolution officially endorsing the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities’ (CSCU) Students First proposal. The resolution notes that Students First takes important steps toward closing the equity gap at the state’s community colleges while maintaining access.   

“People of color are all too often left behind within our community college system,” said Scot X. Esdaile, President of the NAACP Connecticut State Conference and a member of the National Board of Directors. “This hurts our communities, our families, and our state. I applaud the Board of Regents for doing the difficult work necessary to make sure our community colleges work for all.”  

Students First is the Board of Regents’ proposal to improve student success while putting the state’s community colleges on firm fiscal footing. Among other things, it will merge the 12 current community colleges into a single accredited institution – ensuring that all campus and satellite locations remain open. It also implements am approach known as Guided Pathways, which has been proven nationally to be effective in increasing degree and certificate completions along with positioning students to take advantage of burgeoning workforce opportunities.   

“So many community college students are the first members of their family to go to college; this makes it difficult to navigate the process,” CSCU President Mark Ojakian said. “The goal is to remove the barriers to graduation that many of our students, particularly our students of color, face. From transportation, to childcare, to the need to work full time while going to school - these nonacademic barriers cause many of our students to withdraw before completing. We simply cannot be satisfied with maintaining the status quo and allowing minoritized students to continue to fall behind.” 

Connecticut’s community colleges serve more than 8,000 Black students and more than 12,000 Latinx students, accounting for two thirds of the state’s minoritized undergraduates. At the same time, the graduation rate for Black students stands at just eight percent, compared to 21 percent for white students. 




The full text of the resolution is below. 


WHEREAS, Connecticut’s community colleges and public universities provide high quality, cost-effective education at 17 locations throughout the state, with the worthy mission of providing equity, opportunity, and access for all students; and  

WHEREAS, despite a staff, faculty, and administration committed to the success of students, students of color continue to fall behind academically; and 

WHEREAS, at our community colleges, Connecticut has a 29-point attainment gap nation between white students and students of color, the third highest such gap in the United States; this racial achievement gap is consistent across almost every key performance indicator; and  

WHEREAS, in 2017, the Board of Regents for Higher Education, which oversees the state’s public colleges and universities, released a plan known as Students First, to shrink the equity gap and improve the financial outlook for Connecticut’s community colleges; and  

WHEREAS, Students First includes proven student success initiatives, including a nationally recognized approach known as Guided Pathways, which has yielded dramatic results, increasing outcomes for students of color, in other states; and  

WHEREAS, the Board of Regents recognizes that when students of color – many of whom face non-academic obstacles to graduation, including childcare, transportation, and the need to work full or part time while going to school – fall behind, it harms employment prospects and prolongs systemic societal inequities; and  

WHEREAS, the closing of any community college campus – particularly a campus in an urban center, which is more costly to operate but serves more students of color – is an unacceptable solution to the system’s fiscal challenges; and  

WHEREAS, a component of Students First is the consolidation of the state’s 12 community colleges into one singly accredited institution, preserving access to all current campuses and satellite locations; and  

WHEREAS, Students First is the only viable plan to maintain access to all campuses, while increasing equity and opportunity for minoritized students.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (“NAACP”) of Connecticut officially endorses the Board of Regents for Higher Education’s Students First strategy as an important step toward improving attainment rates – and by extension, workforce opportunities – for students of color.