The San Antonio Express News has begun a series of articles on the role of Texas community colleges. The first piece, by Gloria Padilla, is called “Easing the Load on Community Colleges,” and deals with how two-year schools have been treated by state policy.
Ms. Padilla writes:
With open enrollment and low-cost tuition, community colleges — once called junior colleges — provide an economical path to a degree for a majority of the state’s incoming college freshmen each fall. However, despite their best efforts, community colleges have never received the respect they merit from state leaders.
Maybe it’s because they don’t have political clout or championship athletic teams, but it hasn’t been for lack of distinguished alumni. Judge Ed Prado of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals and high-powered businessman Bill Greehey started their higher education at a community college.
When it comes to state appropriations, community colleges receive a small percentage of the higher education funding in the state. Last biennium, they received 31 percent of their funding from the state, a dramatic decrease from 1985 when 64.5 percent of their budgets were funded by the state.
An editorial in the newspaper launching the series also has some interesting news:
Perry’s veto of the community colleges’ funding last summer served to unite the community college district officials across the state.
Led by Roberto Zarate, chairman of the Alamo Community Colleges district board, the institutions formed the Community Colleges Association of Texas Trustees.
Zarate, who is serving as the group’s president, said the organization plans to push for a bigger share of the state higher education budget for the next biennium.