Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context

Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context

Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context

Community Colleges: Policy in the Future Context

Synopsis

With the federal government's emphasis on workforce development, U.S. community colleges have become important entities in the national policy agenda and have taken on renewed importance to states. This book provides a critical analysis of various federal, state, and institutional policies affecting community colleges at the start of the 21st century. Addressed to anyone interested in the future of the community college, the book examines the national historical and cultural policy context affecting community colleges, including federal policies, state governance structures, and the impact of globalization. At the state level.

Excerpt

Barbara K. Townsend and Susan B. Twombly

As the 20th century comes to a close and the 21st century begins, community colleges are poised to assume a new, and increasingly important, role in higher education. For most of the 20th century, community colleges operated on the margins of the educational system to provide transfer, occupational, and remedial/developmental education, as well as short-term training. From a four-year-college perspective, the community college has sometimes been viewed as a poor cousin of elite liberal arts colleges and research universities. This place on the margins was cemented in early decades of the 20th century when four-year universities continued to offer the first two years of a college education in spite of the development of the two-year college (Cohen & Brawer, 1996). Despite the boost community colleges received from national initiatives such as the 1947 Truman Commission Report on Higher Education, they have remained secondary to four-year colleges and universities. However, for individuals and communities served by community colleges, these schools are, and have been, anything but marginal institutions. Community colleges provide status and income to the towns and counties that support them, as well as low-cost access to higher education and job training for literally millions of individuals. Yet, as recently as 1996, the Education Commission of the States argued that policy makers failed to recognize the importance of community colleges when planning for postsecondary education.

Now, however, a number of forces are aligning to catapult community colleges to the center of the federal and states educational policy agendas. Among these forces is the rapidly globalizing economy, with its insatiable demand for information and technical education, the largest factor for expansion of the

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