Community colleges serve an important role in Texas. As open-enrollment institutions of higher education, they provide an avenue of higher education available to any Texan interested in seeking post-secondary educational opportunities at a cost lower than four-year institutions. They provide access to higher education’s core curriculum, allowing students to take advantage of that low cost and convenience before transferring to a four-year college or university in order to complete a four-year degree. Beyond that, they provide a broad spectrum of two-year degrees and certificates in a variety of specific fields and occupations. They partner with local businesses and local governments in efforts to fulfill the needs of their local communities and workforces.
There is a need, however, to reassess the current value of community colleges and the role they play in higher education. Historically, junior and community colleges were the sole avenues for higher education in local communities, and they were outgrowths of the local school districts they served. That is no longer the case as there are many ways for individuals to pursue a variety of postsecondary degrees or achieve credit in preparation of enrollment in a four-year institution. That does not make community colleges unimportant or unnecessary, but their contemporary role is disconnected from their historical roots, and accompanying such a change should be a reevaluation of how state government supports community colleges.
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