On Thursday we had a flag-raising ceremony at the college in honor of Black History Month. (It had been postponed by the snowstorm.) It was the first time in nearly a year that I had been around so many students in three dimensions. I didn’t realize how much I missed that.

The students were terrific, the weather cooperated and the ceremony went well. After 2020, just being able to write that feels good.

I’m encouraged by the early reporting on proposed dual-admissions arrangements between California community colleges and the Cal State and U of California systems.

Apparently, Governor Newsom wants to guarantee freshmen at the state’s community colleges seats at the Cal State or UC campus of their choice, starting in a few years. If all goes as planned, students at community colleges would have access to libraries and other facilities at the four-year campuses prior to transfer.

From a community college student’s perspective, this could be huge. One of the stressors of transfer is the uncertainty of it. But having a guarantee — even if it’s conditional on a GPA — makes it easier to commit to staying on track. From experience here, I’d assume not only that the four-year colleges would waive application fees, but also that they’d offer on-site academic advisers at the community colleges. It’s crucial to ensure that students with a given destination in mind pick the classes that will fit. When different destinations disagree with each other, that requires a certain amount of human intervention.

It could also go a long way toward reducing costs for families.

And it’s especially welcome to the extent that it recognizes transfer as a key function of community colleges. That part of the mission tends to get overlooked in political discourse. It shouldn’t; if anything, it’s an on-the-shelf way to help get family tuition burdens under control.

If they’re going to do this right, they’ll need to pay attention to the unique needs of transfer students upon arrival at the destination school. “Add transfers and stir” isn’t good enough. I hope they take this new constituency seriously.

There’s a history of ideas starting in the West and working their way eastward. I hope this one does.

Congratulations to my Aspen colleague Michelle Asha Cooper on her selection as deputy assistant secretary, and acting assistant secretary, for postsecondary education. She’ll be excellent in the role.

I can’t think of Asha without hearing “student-ready colleges” in my head. It’s a great formulation, and a worthy challenge. Congratulations to the Biden administration on an outstanding choice!