An article in today’s Chronicle of Higher Ed pointed an every increasing problem in higher education. Community colleges are asked to serve the needs of the many, but the funds are few. Students are being steered away from four-year institutions, but are finding that at the community college level they cannot get into the courses they need to graduate on time.
I’ve never been a believer in the American Dream since it oft calls for pulling oneself up from non-existent bootstraps, and it seems that working class students are being sold a bill of goods once again. We as a nation cannot talk out of both sides of our mouths when it comes to education. Either we are going to fund our public colleges and universities so that students have a chance to improve themselves or we aren’t. It is egregious for a student to need four math courses to graduate and cannot even get into the first one because all of the sections are full .
I believe in community colleges. I’ve taught off and on at two over the past few years. The community college classroom is an interesting mix of people from a variety of backgrounds. Sometimes you may have a room full of military veterans, high school students trying to get a jump on their four-year degrees, recent high school graduates, moms, dads, and anything in between. Each person attends for his or her own reasons, but usually the reasons boil down to them trying to better themselves and their families.
I truly hope that my home state of California finds a way to make right what is happening to their once great higher education system. My father is a self-proclaimed country boy, and when he notes that something isn’t quite right he often says “that dog don’t hunt.” In the case of what our nation is telling our working-class and poor students about their educational opportunities, no dad that dog doesn’t seem to be useful at all.