Community Colleges On America’s Front Line

American community colleges say they’re on the front line of holding together an unravelling society. We’ll get the message.

Students at the Bunker Hill Community College "LifeMap Lab" on the Boston-area college's campus. (Courtesy Bunker Hill Community College)

Students at the Bunker Hill Community College “LifeMap Lab” on the Boston-area college’s campus. (Courtesy Bunker Hill Community College)

An awful lot of America’s biggest challenges these days run through the humble institution of America’s community colleges.  K-12 education falling short?  Let community colleges retrofit.  Industry needs job training?  Call the community college.  Higher education too expensive?  Go to a community college.  Worried about inequality?  Pray community colleges will build a floor under the workforce.  Where America unravels, community colleges knit, or try to.  This hour On Point:  community college leaders from across the country on their “hold it together” role now.

— Tom Ashbrook


Pam Eddinger, president of Bunker Hill Community College. (@PamEddinger)

Bruce Leslie, chancellor of Alamo Colleges. (@AlamoColleges1)

Paul Brown, president of the Zane State College in Zansesville, Ohio.

From Tom’s Reading List

Times Higher Education Supplement: US rural community colleges hit by economic upturn — “US rural community colleges face a battle to survive in the face of declining state funding and falling enrollment, an expert has warned.J. Noah Brown, president and chief executive officer of the Association of Community College Trustees, told Times Higher Education in a podcast interview that the ‘huge increase’  in community college enrolment during the recession had ceased, leaving many institutions at risk of closure.”

Washington Monthly: America’s Best Community Colleges 2013 — “Today, community colleges remain a pillar of the American system of higher learning, with more than a million new freshmen—42 percent of the total—starting their college careers in a two-year institution every year. Politicians love to praise their salt-of-the-earth qualities, including President Barack Obama, who began his administration with bold promises to invest in the two-year sector.”

The Hechinger Report: New figures suggest community college grad rates higher than thought — “Of the estimated one in four students who start at community colleges and then move on to four-year institutions, more than 60 percent ultimately graduate, the National Student Clearinghouse reports. And another 8 percent who haven’t finished haven’t dropped out, the study says; they’re still enrolled. The revelation suggests that the proportion of community college students who successfully complete their educations is higher than the dismal 18 percent the U.S. Department of Education calculates finish their two-year degrees within three years.”

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