In Defense of Community Colleges
Community colleges have long been an invaluable resource for students. Often serving as a transition to a 4-year university or a cost-effective resource for exploring a range of studies, the junior college system is critical for hundreds of thousands of young students and career-changers.
More recently, there has been a jump in the number of students concurrently enrolled in high school and community college. The Iowa Department of Education reports that in 2010, 38,283 students were enrolled in high school and community college classes at the same, which constitutes a 14 percent jump. For these students, concurrently attending community college as they finish up post-secondary studies allows for career exploration and class credits to be applied to future studies.
Fittingly, there is now more attention focused on the 2-year college system as debates on education funding continue in congress. However, even as students and educators alike acknowledge the role that community colleges play in supplying America’s workforce, the survival of many programs is at stake.
President of the American Association of Community Colleges Walter G. Bumphus recently spoke on the need for community colleges to become more vocal advocates for their own survival.
The issue of budget cuts at the community college level and of the importance of this education sector is on the national radar, having become part of President Obama’s plan to increase the number of graduates to five million in the next ten years. Those who benefit from community colleges are also facing big challenges as Congress explores options for reducing Pell Grants and other funding, which are important for students. These students along with community college administrators hope that their combined voices will become a strong force in persuading the country to invest in this critical sector of American education.