How Community Colleges Can Create Productive Collaborations with Local Schools

By James C. Palmer | Go to book overview

The significant number of recent high school graduates who move on to the community college, as well as state education reform policies that link student achievement in school to subsequent success in college, require community colleges to monitor student flow from the high schools and articulate curricula with the courses offered in local school districts.


10
Demographics, State Education
Reform Policies, and the Enduring
Community College Role as an
Extension of the Schools

James C. Palmer

Over the decades, community college leaders and advocates have championed the institution as a cure for large social problems. Their pronouncements mirror the ideals or fears of the times, not to mention ever-shifting legislative agendas. For example, in 1947, the President's Commission on Higher Education saw the community college as a democratizing agent, preparing the educated citizenry needed by a world power. Later, community college leaders posited their institutions as centers for community development and renewal (Gleazer, 1980; Pifer, 1974). More recently, the focus has been on economic development and workforce training (Zeiss, 1997).

But throughout, the community college has remained constant in one important way: it continues to provide instruction at the thirteenth- and fourteenth-grade levels to the citizens of defined, local communities. It therefore acts as the neighborhood school of American higher education, extending the reach of local school districts and connecting them to state university systems. This is what the community college uniquely does. A host of institutions and agencies provides job training and ad hoc adult education. Many other colleges and universities provide undergraduate education to individuals screened through an admissions process. But no other institution has the task of bringing the first two years of college to all citizens of local communities.

Demographics and policy ensure the continued predominance of this educational role within the community college mission. The gradually

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