Jul 17, 2009

Thank You President Obama

A week or so ago, I wrote a post on articulation agreements and how these programs support student transition between two- and four-year institutions. Having completed a practicum with the Pathway to Baccalaureate Program, a project combining the resources of various northern Virginia school systems, NOVA and George Mason University, I have particular faith in the ability of community colleges to address a whole host of academic issues and to serve the most amazingly diverse population of students you could ever imagine—if the system can be reinforced with adequate funding and commitment from those on high.

In any event, it occurred to me mid-way through my explanation of the benefits of these agreements that none of it would work if the community college system failed to provide the courses or support necessary to get the job done. It’s no secret that community college enrollment has been increasing at about 5 times the rate of four-year institutions. I have attended counseling sessions where the parties pieced through complex webs of work, childcare, household responsibilities only to find required courses either unavailable or impossibly scheduled. No, it doesn’t surprise me that the Bunker Hill Community College, located in various spots in and around Boston, would have to offer two very popular classes at 11:45 p.m. That’s right—the classes let out at 2:30 a.m

Thus it has been with great joy that I have been following President Obama’s response to my sincere request that "maybe we should do something about” helping community colleges. His plan to spend $12 billion to produce 5 million more community college graduates by 2020 is filled with commonsense recommendations and guidelines. Comparing this initiative with the GI Bill, the President outlined a proposal that addresses facilities, completion rates, and the very reasons students turn to community colleges in the first place. With this kind of respect from the Administration and hopefully the Congress, community colleges can look forward to a bright future. Maybe then, the jokes will stop and Jay Leno will move on and find some new targets. Actually, I think he already has.

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