Community Colleges: Separate and Unequal

Community colleges are being asked to do way more with less.

A community college classroom.
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Similarly, just as high poverty K-12 schools added attractive magnet programs to integrate their student populations, our community colleges can add honors programs and offer bachelor's degrees, as has been successfully done at Miami-Dade College in Florida.

[Read the U.S. News Debate: Is a College Degree Still Worth It?]

Four-year schools also have a role to play in bolstering our community colleges. One of the recommendations in the Century Foundation report is that America's elite and other four-year schools target just 5 percent of their junior-level student body for community college transfers. Four-year schools can also work with community colleges to streamline transfers from two- to four-year schools.

Closer coordination and goals for community college transfers will also help the four-year schools. When Amherst College in Massachusetts opened more transfer spots for community college graduates, it found that they had higher GPA and completion rates than those who entered as freshmen.

Keeping the doors open to higher education takes effort and investment. If we expect our higher education system to continue to be the best path to economic mobility, a system of separate and unequal community colleges cannot continue.

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