What about liberal arts?

“President Obama and many governors are pushing the idea of community colleges becoming workforce training centers,” writes Community College Dean. Funding is being shifted from general budgets to favored programs in “STEM fields or fields with presumed local employability.” It’s all about jobs,  jobs, jobs. But, what about liberal arts? What about higher education?

If community colleges fail at their academic mission, it will increase social and economic segregation, argues Diverse Issues in Higher Education.

Literature, philosophy, art history, political science, and economics shouldn’t be the privilege of those who have money.  They’re the shared (if contested) heritage of a culture, and they bespeak possibilities beyond the present.  . . .

Community colleges’ vocational mission is important, he writes, but so is educating students who will transfer to complete a bachelor’s degree or more. Starting at a community college and transferring after two years is the best way to earn a four-year degree without crushing debt.

Politicians aren’t scheming to keep the poor barefoot and ignorant, whatever faculty members may suspect, the dean writes. To “keep the liberal arts available for students of limited means,” academics should frame their arguments around “cross-class contact, transfer and student debt.”

POSTED BY Joanne Jacobs ON March 7, 2012

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