Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

A Thoroughly Satisfying Look at Community Colleges. - Again

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

A Thoroughly Satisfying Look at Community Colleges. - Again

Article excerpt

The American Community College by Arthur M. Cohen and Florence B. Brawer Jossey-Bass, Inc., San Francisco, 1996 512 pages

Hardback: $38.95

Now in its third edition, Cohen and Brawer's The American Community College has achieved and exceeded the status of earlier classic overviews of the field, many of which I have used in a graduate class on the community college over the past two decades at Teachers College, Columbia University.

While most of the books are good, none is as satisfying as The American Community College.

As in previous editions, the authors raise important questions that must be addressed by those of us practicing in the field. What would be the shape of American higher education if the community colleges did not exist? Have changes in the students and society we serve changed the mission of this community-centered institution? Have we been overusing part-time faculty? Will changing patterns of financing our operations lead to positive or negative changes? Will newer modes of delivery of instruction compete with what our institutions have been doing comfortably for so long? Who will make the tough decisions we need to address -- the boards, the faculties, the administrations, the students, the unions, the politicians, the media, or some combination of them all? What are our most important functions, and do we nourish them adequately? Will conflicting forces -- to change the colleges or to keep them the same -- tear the institutions apart? Will there he increased interference in the internal governance of the institutions? And how will that be faced? How does one answer the critics of our mission?

Not all of these questions are answered in the book, nor should they be. The authors make clear that these are living and breathing institutions that evolve like their book and that will change over time, as they should.

The authors have become synonymous with the community college movement. A look at any bibliography finds their names in it repeatedly. They have visited hundreds of institutions all over the country. They have lead the University of California at Los Angeles' ERIC Clearinghouse for Junior Colleges since its inception in 1966 and have supervised and/or conducted important research in the field through the Center for the Study of Community Colleges. They are the editors of the New Directions for Community Colleges series published quarterly by Jossey-Bass since 1973 when it began.

They have written an interpretive analysis and reproduced a book that covers both fact and opinion, theory and practice and, in so doing, they have once again rendered our field a great service. …

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