“Education is an open-ended thing, and we have to put our-money where it will do the most good.”
David Ponitz , WCC President 1965-1975
Amid the overwhelming concern about coronavirus, it is hard to imagine that community colleges don’t have an important role to play in the economic recovery. Every day, we read stories about the massive impact the pandemic will have on state budgets. Some states are already making plans to trim their higher education funding. But 2-year degrees still have a place in returning the economy to its full potential.
Ohio governor Mike DeWine has announced an across-the-board 3.8% cut to Ohio’s public higher education institutions this year. Vermont – which is in the middle of consolidating its community colleges into one statewide system – is pondering potential closures. California governor Gavin Newsom is wrestling with a budget shortfall that could cut $18B from the state’s education budget, after promising to hold schools harmless for the cost of COVID-19.
We still know very little about how the virus will behave over time. As of today, we have no cures, no vaccines, and no highly effective treatments. We don’t know if, when, or for how long we will be able to conduct classes (or business) in person.
But we do know that community colleges and 2-year degrees will factor into our economic recovery. As they have in the past – people will turn to their community colleges for help getting back into the economy. That’s why it is essential to make sure that WCC’s 2-year degrees have genuine value.
Tomorrow, I’ll look at why WCC should focus its efforts on strengthening its technical education programs, and why they produce the best return on the community’s investment in education.
Photo Credit: Washtenaw Community College , via Flickr