The Diverted Dream: Community Colleges and the Promise of Educational Opportunity in America, 1900-1985

By Steven Brint; Jerome Karabel | Go to book overview

5
Designs for Comprehensive Community Colleges: 1958-1970

No analysis of the history of the community college movement in Massachusetts can begin without a discussion of some of the peculiar features of higher education in that state. Indeed, the development of all public colleges in Massachusetts was, for many years, inhibited by the strength of the state's private institutions ( Lustberg 1979, Murphy 1974, Stafford 1980). The Protestant establishment had strong traditional ties to elite colleges--such as Harvard, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Williams, and Amherst--and the Catholic middle class felt equally strong bonds to the two Jesuit institutions in the state: Boston College and Holy Cross ( Jencks and Riesman 1968, p. 263). If they had gone to college at all, most of Massachusetts's state legislators had done so in the private system.

Private college loyalties were not the only reasons for opposition to public higher education. Increased state spending for any purpose was often an anathema to many Republican legislators, and even most urban "machine" Democrats were unwilling to spend state dollars where the private sector appeared to work well enough ( Stafford and Lustberg 1978). As late as 1950, the commonwealth's public higher education sector served fewer than ten thousand students, just over 10 percent of total state enrollments in higher education. In 1960, public enrollment had grown to only 16 percent of the total, at a time when 59 percent of college students nationwide were enrolled in public institutions ( Stafford and Lustberg 1978, p. 12). Indeed, the public sector did not reach parity with the private sector until the 1980s. Of the 15,945 students enrolled in Massachusetts public higher education in 1960 (see Table 5-1), well over 95 percent were in-state students. The private schools, by contrast, cast a broader net: of the nearly 83,000 students enrolled in the private schools, more than 40 percent were from out of state ( Organization for Social and Technical Innovation 1973).

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