by Mary Ellen Flannery
With his proposed $8 billion for community colleges, President Obama has made it clear that he believes in the promise of community colleges to transform American lives.
“The truth is that the skills and training you get here,” he told students at Northern Virginia Community College last month, “will be the best tool you have to achieve the American promise.”
Some of this country’s most successful, most recognizable citizens got their start in two-year, public colleges. You know who they are, even if you don’t know where they got their degrees. They are astronauts, filmmakers, famous authors, and more…
Check out this slideshow of familiar faces.
Despite the numbers of out-of-work Americans, there are jobs out there for skilled workers. By 2018, this country will need 22 million more workers with college degrees, according to a recent Georgetown University study, and will likely fall short by 3 million. “And that’s not something (this country) can afford,” wrote the authors.
It’s not snobbery to create opportunities for Americans to have access to well-paid careers, and ensure that this country doesn’t fall behind in high-tech fields, health services, and other areas of innovation. It’s doing what’s best for this country and its citizens.
Recently, President Obama challenged state governors to make sure all students in their schools today get the education and skills they need to compete for the jobs of tomorrow. “More than 40 states cut higher education spending in 2011—cuts that lead to higher tuition prices in our public colleges and universities,” he noted. “But when our economy is struggling, the last place to make cuts is in education.”
The proposed $8 billion “Community College to Career Fund,” would train 2 million workers for jobs in high-demand areas like health services, transportation, and advanced manufacturing. It comes on the heels of a $2 billion public-private partnership, part of the White House’s “Skills for America’s Future” program, which is helping 200 community colleges across the country to train more than 500,000 workers in manufacturing fields.
The President also has lent his support to the $300 billion F.A.S.T. Act (Fix America’s Schools Today), which would provide $5 billion to modernize aging community colleges. And he has been a staunch defender of college affordability programs, such as the Pell Grant program. His new “Pay As You Earn,” proposal would allow about 1.6 million students the ability to cap their loan payments at 10 percent starting next year, and then forgive the balance of their debt after 20 years of payments.
Click here to send an email urging your Senators to vote yes on the Fix America’s Schools Today (FAST) Act.