, Newburyport, MA


February 1, 2012

Keep community colleges focused on local needs

Gov. Deval Patrick's proposal to more closely match the curriculum at the state's 15 community colleges with the skills needed by Bay State businesses is to be applauded. But legislators ought to take a more skeptical view of his suggestion that those colleges be brought within a single governing structure administered by the state Board of Higher Education.

Both ideas were brought forward by the governor in his State of the State speech last Monday.

"There are 240,000 people still looking for work in Massachusetts and nearly 120,000 job openings. Why? How can we have so much opportunity available and so many people still looking for their chance? Business leaders tell me over and over again that it is because the people looking for jobs don't have the skills required," Patrick declared.

He's right to suggest that the community colleges have a key role to play in bridging that "skills gap." But the fact is that many are already doing that. In fact, the governor mentioned several such programs in his speech, and he might well have added the innovative partnership now under way in Lynn involving students at North Shore Community College and the city's largest employer, General Electric.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to streamline the bureaucracies at all the state's institutions of higher education where the emphasis should be on what's happening in the classroom and keeping student fees at a reasonable level. But there's also something to be said for allowing the community colleges to retain the flexibility needed to respond to the specific demands of businesses in the region in which they're located. What makes sense for such a school in Springfield in terms of curriculum, for example, may not necessarily match the needs of employers on Cape Cod.

Text Only | Photo Reprints

NDN Video
Weird 'Wakudoki' Dance Launches Promotional Competition Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up Chapter Two: Designing for Naomi Watts Broken Water Main Floods UCLA "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show' Robin Wright Can Dance! (WATCH)
Special Features
NRA Waterfront Plans