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Emanuel Says Community Colleges Will Receive More Aid

By CityTownInfo.com Staff

June 18, 2009

Rahm Emamuel, the White House chief of staff, remarked that President Obama will soon announce plans for an increase in federal support for job-training programs at community colleges.

"In the next couple of weeks, you will see a major announcement by the president on community colleges and job training and the rewriting of all the legislation related to job training and community education in the country," said Emanuel in an address to the Democratic Leadership Council, which was reported in the Chicago Tribune's blog The Swamp. "But most importantly," he noted, "in the area of community colleges."

The goal, he said, is to enable five million more workers than usual to be educated through the community college system during the next ten years. "As a competitive advantage for the United States," Emanuel pointed out, "the community college system is essential."

The announcement comes at a time when community college enrollment is growing significantly even while facing budget cuts. U.S. News & World Report, which listed ten reasons to choose a community college, notes that the community college is "one of the fastest-growing and most important segments of the American college scene."

Not surprisingly, U.S. News listed the number-one reason for enrolling in a community college as affordability, since tuition is typically lower than public universities and significantly less than private four-year institutions. Additionally, students often live at home and thus save on housing and food. Other reasons to attend community college included open access, class size and diversity.

Of community colleges, Emanuel noted that they are "literally the conveyor belt to allow people to upgrade their skills when they are going from X job to Y profession." His remarks are likely to be welcomed by two-year college officials who have pointed out that community college students are in need of more aid and that state cuts and record enrollment have made it necessary for some schools to close their doors to applicants.

The Chronicle of Higher Education pointed out that Emanuel's remarks emphasize a growing recognition within the Obama administration of the importance of two-year colleges. Earlier this month, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced a new grant program for community colleges, and in April, Obama chose a community college leader, Martha J. Kanter, as undersecretary of education.

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