To the Editor:
In “New Popularity Challenges Nation’s Community Colleges,” (Diplomas Count, Education Week, June 9, 2011), I am quoted in a manner that implies significant disrespect for the work of community colleges. While my words were quoted verbatim, they were taken out of context and this—unintentionally—altered their meaning. I shared in the effort to craft and pass the American Graduation Initiative intended to support the efforts of community colleges to serve students from all walks of life.
When the AGI failed to become law, it meant that community colleges had been drawn into the public eye, but not given the financial resources they needed to improve their outcomes. Their current outcomes became highly visible and left some with the false impression they were attributable to a lack of will on the part of the colleges, rather than a lack of resources. I explained this in an interview for the article, and in particular I said the colleges had both the “will and commitment” to succeed. I also noted that I felt partially responsible for not delivering more support to them. Those pieces were paraphrased due to space constraints, but they were essential.
My long track record of analyzing and explaining the challenges facing community colleges stands on its own. They have motivation—what they need now is money and technical assistance. I fully support efforts to deliver on the promise of the AGI.
Assistant Professor of Educational Policy Studies and Sociology
University of Wisconsin-Madison
A version of this article appeared in the July 13, 2011 edition of Education Week as Professor Offers Context on Community College Remarks