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by Vault Education Editors | July 16, 2009


On Tuesday, President Obama announced an initiative that would give $12 billion to community colleges, part of a larger plan to help "prepare our people with the skills they need to compete in this global economy." Speaking from Macomb Community College in Michigan, Obama emphasized that much of the funding would be spent on schools located in the Rust Belt, where the Recession has hit the automotive and other manufacturing industry hard, leaving many workers unemployed and in need of training to change careers. With career change training in mind, the initiative would focus on helping improve community colleges' graduation rates, update and renovate facilities, and add new technology.

Obama's announcement comes at a time when community colleges are already evolving to meet the needs of a changing student body. In addition to the influx of career changers, more full-time and traditional-college-age students are choosing to attend two-year community colleges. Schools understand that these students have different needs than their part-time or older counterparts. According to Inside Higher Ed, community colleges have been adding student centers, dormitories and other student space to their campuses. Deborah M. DiCroce, president of Tidewater Community College (which plans to have student centers on all four of its campuses by 2012), told Inside Higher Ed, "It makes far more sense to try to fashion an educational experience that is reflective of the diversity, complexity and interdependency of the world we live in. What constitutes education, increasingly, is not confined to what happens in the classroom."

Sounds to me like community colleges understand what's being asked of them in our changing work world, and are ready to handle it. Hopefully, schools will recognize what colleges like Tidwater are doing, and put the $12 billion in tax-payer dollars to good use.


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