White House invites Lee’s Summit R-7 officials to join collaboration group working on expansion of college opportunities

White House invites Lee’s Summit R-7 officials to join collaboration group working on expansion of college opportunities

Dr. David McGehee, R-7 School District superintendent, and Elaine Metcalf, director of R-7’s Summit Technology Academy, were among approximately 65 education leaders from throughout the United States invited to attend the White House College Opportunity Summit. The summit, held July 31, was a working session with the U.S. Department of Education for leaders involved in successful kindergarten through 12th-grade/higher-education partnerships.

Dr. McGehee and Mrs. Metcalf were among a delegation from the Lee’s Summit area that also included representatives from the University of Central Missouri (UCM), Metropolitan Community College (MCC) and Kansas City Public Schools. Travel and lodging expenses for Lee’s Summit R-7 officials were sponsored by UCM.

The education leaders met with White House and U.S. Department of Education officials including Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Munoz, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell to share successful strategies and brainstorm new ideas during the White House College Opportunity Summit. The R-7, UCM and MCC representatives joined teams from 11 other communities across the country to collaborate on ways to increase college access and success. States represented were New York, Maryland, New Jersey, Colorado, Missouri, Minnesota, Rhode Island, Texas, California and South Carolina.

The local officials from R-7, UCM and MCC were selected based on the three organizations’ collaborative one-of-a-kind program that dramatically reduces the time required to receive a college degree while also significantly decreasing the cost of a bachelor’s degree for students and their families. Known as The Missouri Innovation Campus, the program began in 2012 and has been recognized at the regional and national level. During summer 2013, President Barack Obama highlighted The Missouri Innovation Campus during a visit to Missouri, calling the unique program “a recipe for success over the long term.”

“We are grateful for the invitation to participate in the national summit and the opportunity to share information about this extraordinary program,” said Dr. McGehee. “It has been especially rewarding for our district to help launch The Missouri Innovation Campus and to be a part of the visionary collaboration involving our school district, UCM and MCC as well as our business partners.”

Through The Missouri Innovation Campus, students receive their associate degree from MCC soon after earning their high-school diploma and are on track to earn a bachelor’s degree in high-tech, high-demand fields just two years later. Remarkably, students participating in the program will also complete their associate and bachelor’s degree at almost no cost to the students or their families.

The first cohort of students enrolled in The Missouri Innovation Campus (MIC) received their high-school diplomas last spring and their associate degrees this summer. They will begin their remaining two years in the program at UCM in fall 2014. In addition to the program’s accelerated timeframe and financial advantages, students are able to develop job-ready skills through internships with high-tech companies. The partnership has been recognized for both the high level of collaboration between the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District and higher education as well as the valuable partnerships with industry-leading businesses.

“Bold action is needed to develop innovative commitments that will promote real progress toward college completion and help us again lead the world in college graduation,” said Secretary Duncan. “The vision and actions shared during this session will help move us in that direction and help open the doors of college to every American.”

Earlier this year, the White House and the Department of Education convened a College Opportunity Summit with leaders from more than 140 colleges, nonprofits, foundations and other organizations, which collectively made more than 100 commitments to take new action in one of the following areas crucial to college opportunity:

  • Connecting more low-income students to a college that is a good fit for them and ensuring that more graduate.
  • Increasing the pool of students preparing for college through early interventions.
  • Leveling the playing field in college advising and SAT/ACT test preparation.
  • Strengthening remediation to help academically underprepared students progress through and complete college.

The July 31 meeting culled some of the best ideas from around the country as the White House and U.S. Department of Education continue to collaborate on how to make college more affordable and within reach of every American.

Source: Lee’s Summit R-7