Magazine article The Catalyst

Editor's Page

Magazine article The Catalyst

Editor's Page

Article excerpt

I'm writing this on November 3rd, the day after the elections. The votes are in and the winners and losers have been identified. Regardless of whom you favored, there must be a collective sigh of relief that the campaign season is over. It was not our finest hour.

Throughout the campaign, I looked for the candidate's positions on education, and specifically, how they felt about community colleges. I saw President Bush in person at the AACC convention in Minneapolis from the second row. He praised our work, but he really wanted to talk about Iraq and dwelled at length on the great progress we were making there. Both presidential candidates spoke highly (if infrequently) of the work that community colleges do, but there were more emotional issues to be flogged, more wedge issues to be driven home, more attack ads to be finely crafted. Issues of substance and serious discussion of policy were mostly ignored in the campaign.

Eventually, I got the feeling that the election of either candidate wouldn't make much difference for our colleges. The federal budget deficit grows by the month, but the electorate didn't seem to care. When it comes time for all of us to pay the bill, we'll either ignore the decline of these shining institutions that do so much for their communities, or we will, with regret, start dismantling the once great systems that held out so much promise, all while insisting that our taxes are too high.

Where do we go from here? Our colleges face increasing fiscal and demographic challenges. The next tidal wave of students is coming while practically every state is cutting back on educational support. Our institutional missions are being challenged. To be all things to all people, to be "comprehensive," to have open doors and cover the gamut from basic skills through workforce development to honors classes and learning communities - how can our colleges do it all? …

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