A recent editorial from USA TODAY explained, once again, how vital community colleges are to America’s efforts to shake-off this bad economy. Further, it said that investments in community colleges need to be a central piece of the next federal economic stimulus package:
Consider these facts:
• Community colleges educate roughly half of all students but receive only a fourth of what’s handed out in local and state funds to four-year public and private colleges.
• Over the next decade, at least 57% of all job openings will require post secondary education but not necessarily a four-year degree. Some of the highest-demand workers get their job training at community colleges, including half of new nurses. As many as 40% of teachers get their academic start at community colleges.
• Community colleges reach many students four-year colleges miss, including 35% of undergraduate minority students and 39% of undergrads who are the first generation in their family to attend college.
• While many private, four-year colleges are seeing dips in applications, community college enrollments this fall rose by 8-10%. And yet in most states, the per-student aid is shrinking.
We can only hope this message is being heard by those who are deciding on the details of that economic stimulus plan.