Can Community Colleges Survive the Economic Downturn?

Despite increased demand for education, budget cuts are causing two-year schools to cut back, denying a college education to thousands of students.

Want to pick up some new skills to boost your employability? Why not check the course catalog at your local community college? But get on it. Thanks to the economic downturn, community college funding is on the decline nationally. Some community colleges are getting harder to get into and others are shutting down entirely.

As of 2009 state funding is down 26.8 percent—a statistic calculated before this year's round of draconian cuts to higher education. Help isn't coming from the federal government either. In 2009, citing the importance of community colleges in retraining the workforce, President Obama pledged $12 billion in aid to the two-year schools, but by the time Congress finished with his proposal, the amount was down to $2 billion. As community college expert John Roueche told, "The rhetoric has been nothing but positive. Community colleges are the darlings in everybody's mind. But boy, talk is cheap." Indeed, with economic stimulus funds dried up, the most recent federal grant to the nation's community colleges was a meager $122 million.

Career changers looking to move into fields like nursing or computer science aren't the only ones affected. The relatively inexpensive tuition at community colleges has long made them appealing to students looking to save some cash before transferring to a four-year university. Open admissions policies also make them attractive to students who don't have the high school grades to get accepted at a competitive college.

Unfortunately those students, many of whom come from lower income and minority backgrounds, are stepping up to get their education and finding the classroom closed. Hardest hit are students in Texas, Arizona, and California, which together "enroll one of every three for-credit community college students." Earlier this year Texas legislators proposed completely shuttering some community colleges in order to save the state money, and in California, thanks to cutbacks, 150,000 students were turned away from community colleges in 2010. This year's proposal to slash $2 billion from higher education in the Golden State could mean as many as 400,000 students get turned away from college next year.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott doesn't see how the system can survive in the current economic climate. "You cannot maintain quality and keep the doors of these colleges open to everybody if you’re in a drastically declining financial environment," he says. Despite the universally acknowledged need for a well trained workforce, Scott acknowledges, "We are rationing our education."

photo (cc) via Flickr user cvconnell

via Alan Levine / Flickr

The World Health Organization is hoping to drive down the cost of insulin by encouraging more generic drug makers to enter the market.

The organization hopes that by increasing competition for insulin, drug manufacturers will be forced to lower their prices.

Currently, only three companies dominate the world insulin market, Eli Lilly, Novo Nordisk and Sanofi. Over the past three decades they've worked to drastically increase the price of the drug, leading to an insulin availability crisis in some places.

In the United States, the price of insulin has increased from $35 a vial to $275 over the past two decades.

Keep Reading Show less

Oh, irony. You are having quite a day.

The Italian region of Veneto, which includes the city of Venice, is currently experiencing historic flooding. Venice Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has stated that the flooding is a direct result of climate change, with the tide measuring the highest level in 50 years. The city (which is actually a collection of 100 islands in a lagoon—hence its famous canal streets), is no stranger to regular flooding, but is currently on the brink of declaring a state of emergency as waters refuse to recede.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Since the International Whaling Commission banned commercial whaling in 1986, whale populations have been steadily recovering. However, whales in the wild still face other dangers. In the summer of 2018, four Russian companies that supply aquariums with marine animals captured almost 100 beluga whales and killer whales (aka orcas). After a public outcry, those whales are swimming free as the last of the captive whales have been released, the first time this many captured whales have been released back into the wild.

In late 2018 and early 2019, a drone captured footage of 11 orcas and 87 beluga whales crammed into holding pens in the Srednyaya Bay. The so-called "whale jail" made headlines, and authorities began to investigate their potentially illegal capture.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Twitter / Bye,Bye Harley Davidson

The NRA likes to diminish the role that guns play in fatal shootings by saying, "Guns don't kill people, people kill people."

Which is the same logic as, "Hammers don't build roofs, people build roofs." No duh. But it'd be nearly impossible to build a roof without a hammer.

So, shouldn't the people who manufacture guns share some responsibility when they are used for the purpose they're made: killing people? Especially when the manufacturers market the weapon for that exact purpose?

Keep Reading Show less
via Gage Skidmore / Flickr

The 2020 election is a year away, but Donald Trump has some serious ground to cover if he doesn't want it to be a historical blowout.

A Washington Post- ABC News poll released Tuesday shows that Trump loses by double digits to the top Democratic contenders.

Vice President Joe Biden (56%-39%); Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts (54%-39%); Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont (56%-39%); South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (52%-41%); and Sen. Kamala Harris of California (52%-41%) all have big leads over the president.

Keep Reading Show less