Community colleges may be the key

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Any good carpenter or mechanic knows that having the right tool for the job can mean all the difference in the world.

Imagine trying to nail together a house with a sledgehammer.

Sure, you could drive nails quickly, but you’d also likely crush a few fingers and mark up a bunch of wood in the process. The sledgehammer is simply too big and cumbersome for the job.

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Much more work could be done much more quickly with a smaller hammer, one intended for carpentry.

The same can be said for our state’s education system. It’s like building a house, too.

First, a good foundation must be built using our elementary, middle and high schools.

Framing the house requires a nimble higher education system.

All too often, many of us think bigger is better when it comes to higher education, therefore we believe our four-year universities are the best, most effective educational endeavors.

Reality, however, points to the greater effectiveness of community colleges.

In our ever-changing economic times, we know of no better way to pair up business and industry needs with students hungry for real-world education than utilizing the community college structure.

As state leaders consider budget cuts — both in the current fiscal year and for future years — they would be wise to consider the value of our community colleges before additional funds are cut.

Businesses need easy access to the job training programs and students need low tuition.

Community colleges are among the best value we have in higher education. It would be a shame to keep whittling away at that until little is left.