On Tuesday, President Obama is expected to make a major announcement regarding federal support for community colleges. With up to $9 billion in federal support for community colleges rumored, Obama’s announcement serves as a recognition of the vital importance of these”21st century job-training centers” that have the capacity to create the flexible American work force needed to compete in today’s global economy. This announcement comes at a period of critical mass for community colleges: many of these institutions are bursting at the seams due to increased demand for job retraining for the unemployed and because of students seeking a new option for affordable higher education.
This new support for community colleges will serve a wide array of populations. First, community colleges are a critical remedial option for underprepared college students, allowing them to gain the skills and abilities necessary to thrive in a traditional four-year institution. As noted in the article, the increased funding (including financial aid support) will be of great help to college students unable to afford the ever-increasing price tag of 4 year institutions, especially in an economy where personal savings have dwindled and many sources of financial aid have dried up. Another population that will be well-served by this proposal is foreign students. As more and more international students opt for community colleges as an affordable option to attain a higher education in the
This funding for community colleges also has another beneficiary: both unemployed and working adults. Community colleges serve as a crucial resource for laid-off employees who need retraining due to changes such as the failure of their company or the exporting of their jobs overseas. Employed adults also would be wise to take advantage of this educational resource to keep their skills current and relevant in today’s rapidly evolving world of work. Finally, community colleges provide a launching pad for students over 50 wishing to reinvent themselves for the 20+ years remaining in their working life.
One final effort briefly mentioned in the Chronicle article involves the development of free, federally-sponsored online courses available through the community college network. These classes will enable students to step into the digital age and refresh their skills from home – but they aren’t a guaranteed boost to skills. Without the self-discipline, motivation and willingness to adapt to new technologies needed for students to succeed in an online platform, these courses will be much less effective.
In the end, Obama’s announcement comes as a challenge to the American student population and workforce: take advantage of the learning opportunities that surround you so that
Obama Expected To Announce Major Proposal to Support Community Colleges
by Marc Parry
President Obama called for fresh financial support for America’s community colleges on Sunday as two-year institutions anticipate the rollout of what could be a multibillion-dollar new proposal for an education sector that is straining to accommodate a surge in students amid the recession.
Writing in The Washington Post, Mr. Obama cast community colleges in a lead role as the country rebuilds its economy from the “wreckage” of financial collapse. His call for reforming America’s network of community colleges comes as the president prepares to visit Michigan on Tuesday for a speech about two-year institutions.
“Our community colleges can serve as 21st-century job-training centers, working with local businesses to help workers learn the skills they need to fill the jobs of the future,” Mr. Obama wrote in an opinion piece published on Sunday. “We can reallocate funding to help them modernize their facilities, increase the quality of online courses, and ultimately meet the goal of graduating five million more Americans from community colleges by 2020.”