Four-Year Degrees atCommunity Colleges: An Idea That Would Unquestionably Make a Difference for the Local Community,Arizona
A Guest Column byParadise ValleyMayor Vernon Parker &Exploratory CommitteeCandidate for Governor
I want to talk about a bold idea – one you don’t often hear Republicans discuss – that could be enormously helpful to this community and our state.
Let’s create greater access tohigher educationfor rural students as well as those of lesser means. I want a change in state law to allow Arizona’s community colleges to be able to offer four-yearbaccalaureate degrees, in addition to the associate’s degrees they currently offer.
If elected governor I intend to get this law passed.
Well, I am a product of thecommunity college system. I benefited from instructors focused on teaching that so exemplifies the community college. Our universities are growing exponentially, and with that growth so grows the cost of tuition. Many can no longer afford our universities. In addition, they are growing too large. We can only put so much air in the balloon that has become our current system, before it pops. Without theCalifornia community collegeandstate college systemI never would have been in a position to go to law school. Theuniversity systemwasn’t an option for me.
I am well aware of the important collaborations that exist between our universities and community colleges, but I think we need to take the next step.
After all, if Republicans believe inschool choice,open enrollmentandcharter schools, why shouldn’t we support similar notions in higher education?
Why not allow the colleges most accessible to our students to provide four-year degrees, creating more access and affordability for all students across our state?
At a time of steep increases in tuition we need to pursue every option to release the burden on our students, providing every opportunity for success.
The benefits to rural Arizona are enormous where we now see many of their best and brightest go off to the big city and the big school rather than stay in town to help it flourish in the future. Likewise, the benefits to lower and middle income students already in the big cities longing for access to higher education are equally compelling.
Ideas like this make running for governor exciting. Few reforms could have such a dramatically positive impact on so many. And it is one more way we can soon escape the State of Chaos Arizona has become for the State of Opportunity we all want it to be.