Trustee Michael McDonough Signs Education Pledge at White House
Trustee Michael McDonough Signs Education Pledge at White HouseAmy Rubinson, Communications and Marketing Associate
Because of his unwavering commitment to expanding college opportunity, an invitation to a White House event on June 10 was extended to Raritan Valley Community College President and College Board Academic Assembly Council Chairman Michael McDonough.
The event, hosted by Domestic Policy Council Director Cecilia Muñoz and Education Secretary John King, launched the Obama administration’s Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge, an initiative focused on reducing barriers to higher education for people who have criminal records. Fifteen higher education institutions were invited to act as founding partners in establishing the pledge.
McDonough was asked to attend because Raritan Valley participates in the New Jersey Scholarship and Transformative Education in Prisons Consortium (NJ-STEP), an association of higher education institutions that provide courses for incarcerated students and help them transition into college life once they have been released. According to NJ.com, Raritan Valley broke ground in 2014 by awarding associate’s degrees to 14 inmates at Edna Mahan Correctional Facility. Half earned their degrees with honors.
By signing the Fair Chance Higher Education Pledge, institutions like Raritan Valley are promising to ensure that people who have had contact with the criminal justice system receive equal educational opportunities. This includes adopting “fair chance” admissions practices, such as moving questions about criminal background to later in the application process or reconsidering those questions altogether. The pledge also outlines the importance of institutions taking action in their communities and becoming examples for their peers.
As of June 10, 25 institutions had taken the pledge; many also took the opportunity to explain why they work to ensure that every person gets a fair chance to attend college.
Raritan Valley’s pledge, which you can read in full on the White House website, says: “In providing incarcerated students with a dynamic and innovative learning environment, in offering students the opportunity to earn an Associate’s Degree, and in building a seamless transition into a four-year college, we help to create that ‘pathway for a second chance.’ We are honored to include these remarkable graduates as our alumni and as our most persuasive and eloquent examples of success.”