Nationwide, legislators are convening in state houses to consider higher education budgets. In North Carolina, the spotlight is on community colleges, as explained by Jenna Robinson in Monday’s Pope Center article.
Unlike many states, which predominantly focus on university funding, North Carolina governor Pat McCrory’s budget proposes increased funding for vital aspects of the community college budget. Specific highlights include $16.7 million for student success, $7.5 million for equipment, $500,000 for apprenticeships, and $500,000 for competency-based education.
Perhaps the most exciting new investment is in competency-based education. Robinson summarizes that this funding would:
Support development of a uniform system for granting academic credit for prior learning and experience. Efforts underway include the ability of military veterans to count their experience as military medics, police, and systems operators toward community college credentials to become emergency management technicians, law enforcement officers, or information technology experts.
This new spending combined with the potential benefits of the North Carolina guaranteed admissions program and recently announced remedial education reforms indicates the possibility of significant improvement in the effectiveness of North Carolina’s community colleges.
While the proposed budget must still make it through the legislature, the renewed interest in community colleges is a good sign. Robinson concludes that “if this session is any indication, community colleges will play a large part in North Carolina’s future.” As they should.