Community colleges get lots of love from politicians these days. But although members of Congress like to be seen at community college graduations, the sector’s leaders will need to lobby hard for the latest White House-proposed funding boost to become a reality.
The Obama administration last week included $5 billion for “facilities modernization needs” at community and tribal colleges as part of a $447 billion job growth plan, which also includes $25 billion in K-12 facilities funding. While the president promised to cover the plan’s cost with budget cuts, new federal spending proposals face fierce resistance from Congressional Republicans and a good chunk of the general public.
“Common sense tells us that putting the federal government in the business of school construction will only lead to higher costs and more regulations,” Representative John Kline, a Minnesota Republican who chairs the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, said in a written statement.
Other potential windfalls for community colleges from the Obama administration, like the $12 billion American Graduation Initiative and some funds that didn’t survive early drafts of the 2009 stimulus legislation, have either withered or died completely. But community college officials say they will mount an aggressive push this time around, perhaps more so than with past White House initiatives.
“There’s going to be real grassroots support to get this enacted,” says David S. Baime, senior vice president of government relations and research at the American Association of Community Colleges. He says community college presidents know that “in order to secure resources, you have to have a very loud voice.”
With improved facilities, Baime says community colleges could serve more students, which would help President Obama make progress on his ambitious college completion goals. Read more >>