Recently several columns in the CT Mirror show how divided individuals are regarding the consolidation plan to merge the state’s community colleges into one entity. This proposal appears to be the opening salvo in a war designed to dismantle the community college system as we know it.
Hiring three regional presidents suggests a move towards a regional community college system. This removes “community” from community college because the term “regional community” is an oxymoron. Our community colleges provide access to individuals who may not consider going to college because of admission barriers. They can earn associate degrees and then if they decide to further their education can transfer seamlessly to other state colleges and universities.
When we think of our community colleges, we reflect on the distinct personalities of the communities served by Asnuntuck, Capital, Gateway, Housatonic, Manchester, Middlesex, Naugatuck Valley, Northwestern CT, Norwalk, Quinebaug Valley, Three Rivers, and Tunxis. Some community members take courses for credit, while others attend non-credit classes or courses that lead to certificates.
Lifelong learning programs with various names in Connecticut higher education are very important. The popular Learning in Retirement program available to residents of all ages offers community residents the opportunity to attend classes to learn about their specific communities at their local community college. For example, QVCC offers classes on local history every semester. Upcoming classes this semester include the Hurricane of ’38, Eastford Connecticut’s Civil War General Nathaniel Lyon, and World War I local heroes.
We need to find a way to keep the integrity of our two-year school system.
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