by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Rob Jenkins explains in a Martin Center column why conservative policymakers should support community colleges.
I do not mean to imply that they are not already supportive—although my experience as a long-time community college faculty member and administrator suggests that they often are not supportive enough. Perhaps that is because elected officials, regardless of party, tend to come from privileged backgrounds. Few of them, if any, attended a community college. So while they may recognize such institutions as a general good, or at least pay lip service to that idea, they do not really give them much thought. Certainly, they do not pay as much attention to two-year schools as they do to their own famous-name alma maters, whether on Saturday afternoons in the fall or during the appropriations process. …
… Those of us on the right talk love to talk about the difference between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. We rightly accuse liberals of pursuing equality of outcome at the expense of freedom and justice by favoring some groups over others. Such equality of outcome is ultimately unachievable and attempts to force it upon society only lead to greater problems.
But here is the rub: Do we genuinely believe in equality of opportunity? Because that is precisely what community colleges represent in our society: An opportunity for students who might not have been brought up in an affluent area or had supportive parents, who might not have attended the best high schools or taken a bunch of AP courses, who might not have had many of the advantages that today’s adult conservative professionals enjoyed. Maybe they cannot get into a university—but they still deserve an opportunity to pursue a college education, or at least some sort of technical degree if that is what they want. Sure, many of them will fail. That is inevitable. But many others will succeed, becoming productive citizens, all because we provided them that opportunity to begin with.