The governor of Tennessee wants to make community college or technical school free for all high school graduates in the state. Republican Governor Bill Haslam calls his proposal the Tennessee Promise. It's part of a broader workforce development strategy in a state that lags behind in higher education, but wants a technically savvy labor pool.
If the Promise succeeds, Tennessee will be the only state to offer associate's degrees and technical certificates free. David Baime with the American Association of Community Colleges says many students are right on the brink, financially.
"So when a message is sent out loudly and clearly that for qualified students community college is free," says Baime, "We think that it could make a big difference in terms of people's willingness to enroll in our institutions."
The governor says he'll pay for the Tennessee Promise with lottery revenue. The proposal builds on a growing number of smaller place based scholarship programs. Michelle Miller-Adams studies the Kalamazoo Promise in Michigan and says the lure of college scholarships for Kalamazoo students prompted many families to move there.
"The Kalamazoo public school district has grown by 25 percent over the last seven years since the Promise was announced," Miller-Adams says.
She says that's a local economic bump that wouldn't be felt in a statewide program. But the focus on community colleges could do a lot to develop the local workforce.
This week's snow and ice knocked out electricity to more than 500,000 customers in Pennsylvania. Tens of thousands of others in neighboring states are also without power. Utilities warn that it will be another day or two, at least, before repairs are finished.
The winter olympics start tomorrow in the Russian city of Sochi. Olympians, officials, and reporters have been arriving all week, with lots of devices in tow. And that means there's been a lot of talk about digital surveillance. Russia's government doesn't have the best record in, say, protecting freedom of the press. Ars Technica's senior business editor Cyrus Farivar has been looking at how to use technology while at the games and joined us to help explain.
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It was annual Senate retreat day in Washington Wednesday, a time when senators get away from the U.S. Capitol and all its daily distractions. But not too far away.