July 14th, 2009
01:40 PM ET
12 years ago

Obama: Community colleges can help boost ailing economy

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/07/14/art.obamacollege.gi.jpg caption="The Obama administration says community colleges could play a key role in helping to boost the ailing economy."](CNN) - Community colleges are only two-year institutions, but the Obama administration says they could play a key role in helping to boost the ailing economy for years to come.

To underscore that contention, the president headed to Warren, Michigan, on Tuesday to unveil a plan that will invest $12 billion over the next decade in community colleges across the country.

In comments released by the White House before the Michigan event, Obama noted that the economic recession and a changing U.S. economy are reducing the number of automotive industry jobs, a mainstay in Michigan.

The "hard truth is that some of the jobs that have been lost in the auto industry and elsewhere won't be coming back. They are casualties of a changing economy," Obama said, adding that "even before this recession hit, we were faced with an economy that was simply not creating or sustaining enough new, well-paying jobs."

Obama called the investment in community colleges crucial because "jobs requiring at least an associate degree are projected to grow twice as fast as jobs requiring no college experience" in coming years.

"We will not fill those jobs - or keep those jobs on our shores - without the training offered by community colleges," the statement quoted Obama as saying.

Education Undersecretary Martha Kanter says the plan is a critical investment, because community colleges have not historically "done enough to get students through, to move them into the workforce, and to get them through the higher-education transfer programs."

She added that "we're very concerned about providing access and opportunity during this terrible fiscal climate."

Kanter and three other senior administration officials briefed reporters on the new initiatives ahead of the president's announcement. The initiatives focus on four areas that officials say are aimed at giving community colleges the resources needed to modernize and assist students who are struggling, they said.

The initiatives include:

- Community college challenge grants, to help underfunded colleges that are dealing with limited capacity and to build partnerships with schools and businesses.

- The Access and Completion Fund, to provide performance-based scholarships, and give colleges the tools to design more programs around work schedules.

- Modernizing community-college facilities, with $2.5 billion to help renovate facilities and keep up with maintenance costs.

- Open online courses, to create options online as a tool that some think can be more effective than classroom instruction alone.

There are 6 million Americans in community colleges. The administration's initiatives are seen as the foundation to help boost enrollment and graduation rates.

In the White House statement, Obama announced a goal of 5 million additional community-college graduates by 2020. He said the investment would be paid by "ending the wasteful subsidies we currently provide to banks and private lenders for student loans, which will save tens of billions of dollars over the next 10 years."

"Instead of lining the pockets of special interests, it's time this money went toward the interest of higher education in America," he said.

Updated at 1:40 p.m. EDT

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (44 Responses)
  1. dreamer

    that's great thing to do,but give em money to do it.they are not, and those schools' that are trying to teach nowdays on the money uncle sam is giving them(those on programs becouse of freetrade)give them under the bare minimum to get us who had their jobs shipped over sea's(still tring to figure out who's bright idea that was).also,for those who did get their jobs sent over seas are getting a huge pay decress becouse unemployment does not replace the wages lost to overseas compitition(unfair).
    How about this idea,lets bring those jobs back untell freetrade means a even playing field for all.Can we stop the great american job give-away for corp. proffits and stop giving countries that don't play by those rules all our work and money..we need a goverment with some balls to stop putting up with all this nonsense.Time for a new party for the american people to watch out for it's own and not this lame idea of FREE TRADE.We all know it's not free trade it's just giving all our hard work and effort over the last 200 years for lobbiest and corp.greed.

    July 14, 2009 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  2. Walker

    He has to spend that $$. We are going to be paying for the mistakes of Obama for generations to come.

    July 14, 2009 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  3. Dean

    The two major universities in my state do not accept the majority of credits earned at community colleges in engineering or other technical areas of study.
    They are mainly a waste of time if your goal is a BS at a mojor university.

    July 14, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  4. Lisa, Saugus MA

    It's easy for someone with a Harvard degree to push for community colleges. It is hard enough when graduating for young people to find a job but if you were an employers and had two people you liked one from Yale the other from Yavapai college in Prescott AZ, who do you think the employer would choose.

    The campaign promise was that any young person could go to college for free if they agreed to do service (community, military, etc) after graduating. So I guess this is another broken promise from the Obama administration.

    July 14, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  5. nyc

    thats why i respect him. he's challenging us all. asking every american. and each one on this site right now, to do their part. its not about pouring money into the economy. its about changing how we do things.. the core of it. buying american, being easy on the gas to drop our need of foreign oil, and investing in whats american to keep our money flowing in this country. and for alot of big cities. community colleges are the best first steps. you have to respect that.

    July 14, 2009 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  6. Zero.

    Or a Short "Cop-Out" for "Free-Loaders". Sherkers!!!

    July 14, 2009 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  7. Jeff - Texas

    It is not the institution that is the problem, it is the individual that has the responsibility. You could line the building with gold and still have the same outcome. The students have to have the drive for success.

    July 14, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  8. NVa Native

    An excellent choice, again!

    July 14, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  9. al in memphis

    Higher skilled workforce– That's how you build a competitive economy for the future. Now we will have some people to make all those tax breaks for business work.

    The $12 billion can come from getting out of Iraq one month earlier.

    July 14, 2009 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  10. JGB

    This president is so out of touch with reality. But what can we expect from a community organizer who doesn't know anything about running a business or even working for one. He has no experiences that enable him to understand us common folk. College is not the cure all for the economy and jobs, someone has to own all these big bad businesses that the college grads want to work for.......hope the college grads don't mind moving over seas to work!

    July 14, 2009 10:37 am at 10:37 am |
  11. Jerry

    Plan "B" to replace ACORN???

    July 14, 2009 10:38 am at 10:38 am |
  12. Terry from West Texas

    Who can object to supporting our community colleges. Education is the best way to imrprove one's prospects in our society (except, of course, being born into a prosperous family). Also, children of college graduates go to college.

    Can there even be a Conservative with a heart so black and flinty that he or she would oppose a program to improve the quality and accessiblity of American community colleges?

    July 14, 2009 10:40 am at 10:40 am |
  13. Kelby In Houston, TX

    There is absolutely no way you can find anything negative to say about promoting cheap *quality* continuing education that is provided by our community colleges...right? I mean, people benefit greatly from community colleges. Surely you can't hate on him for this...right?

    July 14, 2009 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  14. Ryan Indy

    Obama you are an IDIOT.....Nobody respects you and further more no other tyrant fears you.....Democrats, Obama will be treated with the same respect that you showed Bush for 8 yrs. All you pathetic losers keep crying about how your messiah is being treated by Republicans well that is nothing compared to how you treated Bush and just remember what comes around goes around.....Isnt Karma beautiful.

    July 14, 2009 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  15. panem et circenses

    With a $1,000,000,000,000 deficit today, expected to hit $1.8 trillion by the end of the fiscal year...how are we going to pay for this?

    July 14, 2009 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  16. phoenix86

    Yes sir, in today's increasingly competitive global market where high paying jobs routinely require advanced degrees, a $12 billion investment in a 2-year associate degree is just what Dr. Obama would order. Guess he believes that an Associates Degree is equivalent to his Harvard education.

    July 14, 2009 10:58 am at 10:58 am |
  17. Sam Sixpack

    When we all get our phds, we ain't gonna let no drop-outs mow our yards no more.

    July 14, 2009 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  18. Bob in Pa

    Yes, the people need cheaper college tuition. Send them to inferior Community Colleges where they will learn what they should have learned in high school. That will solve the problem.

    July 14, 2009 11:00 am at 11:00 am |
  19. Ben Chasson

    When cap-and-trade and nationalized health care gets through with us, our children will be lucky to be able to afford even local junior colleges.

    July 14, 2009 11:01 am at 11:01 am |
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