College heads see privatization as inevitable

Community colleges will rely on tuition, not state and local funding in the future, leaders said at the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges.

“My own college behaves much more like a private college these days than a public,” said Stephen M. Curtis, president of the Community College of Philadelphia, reports Inside Higher Ed. By next year, nearly two-thirds of the college’s revenue will come from tuition.

His fellow panelist, Rufus Glasper, chancellor of the Maricopa Community Colleges,  said, “We have no choice. The state funds are gone forever.”

Sources of Support for Community College of Philadelphia

Year Operating Budget % From State % From City % From Tuition
1977-78 $18,331,000 36.4% 34.7% 29.7%
1987-88 $39,163,000 31.3% 31.1% 30.4%
1997-98 $65,563,000 36.0% 25.0% 36.5%
2010-11 $120,085,000 26.1% 15.1% 57.6%

There are advantages to privatization, Curtis said.

. . . he does not need state approval for new degrees or curricular changes, that tuition increase are controlled by his board without state or local authorities having veto power, and that his board also has final say on use of budget funds. While tuition increases raise concerns about access, he said that the Community College of Philadelphia just finished its first fund-raising campaign, significantly exceeding a $10 million goal and raising $3 million for scholarships. And he read a long list of operations at his college and elsewhere that he said should be outsourced and could be in a private model: cleaning services, child care, snow removal and more.

Glasper doesn’t foresee more state funding for 7 to 10 years.  He hopes to raise revenue by providing specialized training to businesses.  He also suggested it’s time to look for ways to bring down costs of expensive responsibilities, such as remedial math instruction, by replacing teachers with computers.

This embrace of privatization amounts to giving up on an accessible college education for all, responds Daniel Luzer.

Frankly, if you’re the head of a community college, one of your primary responsibilities is to keep your college really, really cheap for students. Don’t call it accepting reality if you’re just giving up on doing your job. Yea, it’s harder to security funding in this economy. So work harder.

State funding doesn’t recover naturally. Funding “rebounds” when citizens and community leaders demand it. Community colleges are public institutions. Go ahead and demand adequate funding.

In California, where I live, community colleges can demand all they want. The money isn’t there. Students would have more access if tuition were raised — and retained at the college — to pay for more classes.

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON April 30, 2012

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