How "community" are community colleges?

NORWICH – There’s nothing about “community” when it comes to community colleges anymore, one local government leader says, and Chenango County taxpayers shouldn’t be charged for its students who choose to attend one.

Town of Pharsalia Supervisor Dennis Brown said last week that Broome Community College - where a number of Chenango County’s college-aged and adult students are enrolled - “owes us an explanation for what they are doing for our community.”

America’s community colleges were originally created in the 1940s to provide those seeking a two-year, post-secondary degree with a public, more affordable and community-based option. According to then President Harry Truman’s 1947 Commission on Education, the dominant feature of a community college was “its intimate relations to the life of the community it serves.”

Nowadays, two-year degree programs have sprung up at all types of educational institutions across the country and have little, if anything, to do with “community.” In fact, the original purpose of community colleges has “changed dramatically,” the dean of Morrisville State University of New York’s Norwich campus said Monday.

“Community colleges are starting up residence halls and building apartments for students to live in,” said Dean Ted Nichols. “They are attracting international students, and there’s a lot of discussion going on right now about them offering bachelor’s degrees. It’s our open market mentality.”

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