Proposes working together to advance interests of students and promoting completion
In the letter Gunderson writes, "A New Year, and new leadership at the Department, brings opportunities for new beginnings. My hope is that together we can begin an era of constructive collaboration that never forgets our common mission in serving the students enrolled in our sector's schools. Unfortunately, the past six years have been marked by an era of ideological confrontation where nobody wins – especially the students."
The letter notes that the sector and the Department are at unique moment in time and that they should work together to advance reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, as well as improved access and completion.
Gunderson continues, "Today, we are dramatically smaller serving 562,000 fewer students in 2013/14 than 2009/10. Yet, we have heard the call for a focus on outcomes being more important than access. Despite our dramatic drop in student enrollment, we produced 20,000 more academic awards in 2013/14 than we did at the height of the recession!"
The letter also notes, "Unless we find ways to work together our students will be the real losers. They will find less access, less opportunity, less academic awards -- and most important, fewer chances at pursuing their bridge to their version of the American Dream."
"We need a new era of mutual, respectful, collaborative and constructive conversations between our government and this sector. Today, there are 3.2 million students enrolled in our schools seeking the career education and skills that enable them to pursue a place in America's Middle Class. Our students deserve no more, no less than any other sector's students. They deserve to attend schools treated with the same operational, transparency, and outcome metrics of every other school."
Direct link to press release: http://www.apscu.org/news-and-media/press-releases/Open_Letter_to_Acting_Secretary_King.cfm