President Barack Obama called attention to the nation's community college system in his State of the Union address. He further challenged colleges and universities to increase their financial stewardship in an effort to address the rising costs of higher education.
As the president stated, "In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program in the world is a world-class education." The lifetime earning potential for people with postsecondary education is dramatically higher than those with high school diplomas alone, U.S. Census Bureau statistics show.
However, the lasting economic impact of a community college education does not end with one's earning potential. Viewed locally, nine out of 10 Illinois community college graduates remain in Illinois and contribute to the state's economy after completing college, cites the Illinois Community College Board. More than 80 percent of police officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians are certified through community colleges. And remember, because community colleges train 60 percent of the nation's nurses and allied health professionals, your support of community colleges affirms the quality of hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes, schools and dentist offices.
I can think of no more compelling reason for increased support of community colleges than an economically healthy community with a well-educated work force. Never before has a college degree been so important to the future of our citizens, our economy and our nation. Yet, just as employers increasingly require …