Not all community colleges are the same. Through our research, evaluation and work with educational institutions, we have learned that colleges--the budget choices they make, the academic programs they design, the student supports they offer, and the cultures they nurture--can have a dramatic impact on whether students finish.
America's resurgence is real. With a growing economy, shrinking deficits, bustling industry, and booming energy production, we have risen from recession freer to write our own future than any other nation on Earth. Now we have to choose what we want that future to look like. Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do spectacularly well?
We applaud President Barack Obama's many steps toward educational and career access for all Americans. We believe that for the free community college initiative to deliver needed results, we need clarity on the problems facing community colleges, strong accountability measures, and solutions to drive student success, not simply access.
If his K-20 proposal actually becomes law, thousands of young people whose hopes for college seemed as remote as landing a corner office job will have an entry into a world of possibility. They will have access to both a college and career pathway for the array of jobs requiring Associates degrees or certification.
So many thoughts started to form in my mind as my row started to join the long line of graduates. It amazed me at the time, and it still does on occasion, that a kid from North Philadelphia who originally had no plans on attending an institution of higher learning was now graduating from college again.
The President is expected to announce in his State of The Union Address tonight a plan to make community college free. It's called "America's College Promise," and while that might be welcome news for community college students around the country, it's another example of wasteful government spending.