What’s your take on the Governor’s new plan for the community colleges?

Does it make sense to you?  It seems very narrow in focus to me.  It seems that it would allow a very important segment of our higher education system to be ruled by the interests of businesses – primarily businesses in the Boston area.  There also seems to be a focus on creating “schools” that serve merely as narrow training grounds for jobs, as opposed to places that educate citizens, open their minds, and help them to learn how to think critically.  As a lawyer, I am sure that you appreciate how important these skills are, and how much they can add to a person’s life.  They are also important skills for voters to have as they go to the polls.  If we want to be a great state and country, we need to know how to think critically to see beyond all of the propaganda that is passed off as truth by many politicians and their supporters.  The more uneducated the electorate is, the more likely they are to be fooled and abused by those who go into politics to benefit their own interests and those of their cronies. Not all politicians are like this, I know.  But – I know how to think critically.  I was taught how to do that in school.

I have taught at a Community College for over 15 years.  Yes, we have some certificate programs  and associate degree programs that focus on training individuals for certain jobs, but we also have a very large number of students who attend community college for 2 years before going on to earn a degree at a 4 year university. These students cannot afford tuition at a 4 year school for all 4 years – even a state school.   The community colleges have created an opportunity for students to transfer seamlessly into a 4 year college program (usually as a Junior).  What would happen to these programs?  Would the increased funding for the community colleges (which is greatly needed) be earmarked only for those programs that train workers in specific skills- programs that used to be the responsibility of the employer?  When the requirements of business change, will the state again fund the training of employees of certain businesses as these businesses see fit? When did business leaders become the experts in what should be taught in institutions of higher education?

This proposal seems ill-advised to me.  Yes, we need money for education.  But, have education and “job training” become so synoymous that the demands of business will now determine what is seen as worthwhile elements for a degree in higher education?

And, why is this type of control limited to the community colleges?  Shouldn’t ALL of higher education in the state fall under the same model of leadership?  Most community college students in the state move on to UMASS or one of the colleges in the state university system when they complete their associates degree (or before.) Why isn’t the Governor proposing that the business leaders determine what is seen as valuable in all of these institutions of higher education?

These are just my thoughts on this after reading the Governor’s proposal.  I have a lot of questions – and concerns.  I would love to hear what you think about the proposal.  Governor Patrick seems quite committed to pushing it through.  Perhaps he should visit the colleges and talk to the students and faculty.  I think he might be surprised at what he finds.

One reply on “What’s your take on the Governor’s new plan for the community colleges?”

  1. Thanks, Kate.

    I don’t have views on this issue yet. I look forward to the conversation over the next few months. I can say that the preliminary comments from some of have my colleagues have not been markedly enthusiastic about the Governor’s proposal.

    If the proposal seems to be going any place I will dive a lot deeper on it and be prepared to offer perspective.

    I very much appreciate your providing these thoughts. They are very helpful.

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