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Community colleges shouldn’t be struggling to stay afloat - The Torch
Community colleges shouldn’t be struggling to stay afloat

Community colleges shouldn’t be struggling to stay afloat


Penny Scott

President Obama’s proposal for making community colleges free may never materialize. However, some good things may still come from it if enough people speak up.

Quick to respond to Obama’s proposal was Hollywood actor Tom Hanks. In a New York Times Op-Ed on Jan. 14, titled “I Owe It All to Community College,” Hanks wrote that a few years ago, while driving past the campus of Chabot College, where he spent two years in the 1970s, he said to one of his kids “That place made me what I am today.”

With attention focused on community colleges, those who care about Lane have a perfect opportunity to voice what the college means to them. Statistics don’t tell the story; only real people can do that.

Regarding the country’s financial recovery, large sections of the population are on the outside looking in. For example, the country’s manufacturing base has been practically decimated due to overseas outsourcing. This has led to business and factory closures, leaving many people out of work.

Community college might be the only way back into the workforce for some people who lack the necessary skills and education to do anything else.

The state of Oregon has poured a lot of money into the prison system, while its community colleges stand 47th in the country when it comes to state appropriation.

Prevention is always better than cure, and community colleges play an important role in giving people options that would avoid the desperation that may motivate the choice to commit a crime.

For many people, especially baby-boomers, college degrees earned in the past are practically worthless. That’s why it’s not uncommon for mature people with impressive degrees to be working behind counters or in other low-wage jobs. In this time of accelerating change, workers need competencies in new technologies, and community colleges are the places to develop the competencies they need.

We have people from all walks of life at Lane, including those who are houseless, attempting to better themselves through education. A system that doesn’t support people making such an effort is a broken system. Without our voices it is likely to remain broken.

Real stories about real people can generate the attention needed to have Oregon community colleges restored to their rightful place in society. Write to us and tell your story. Why are you at Lane? What does being a student at Lane mean to you, and how is it going?