Part of the issue that some have is that Obama has chosen not to expand the Pell Grant, which can be used for tuition at 4-year colleges as well as community colleges. Many of those advocating expansion of the Pell instead of the President's plan have an interest in maintaining enrollment in 4-year universities, which have felt the pinch of budget cuts and the backlash against rising tuition rates caused by the withdrawal of government support for higher education. These articles tend to highlight research (or sometimes "research") that proves that 4-year colleges have better outcomes:
- "Only about 15 percent of students who start out at a community college earn a bachelor’s degree after six years. And, researchers have found that when students with similar test scores and grades attend community college or a four-year school, the latter are far more likely to earn a degree." --This claim privileges test scores and grades as indicators of higher education success, but ignores other factors that might help explain the differences. In some ways, it seems a bit circular to me. Students do better in higher education because 4-year institutions are better at education.
- As it is, many community college students don't respect their education. Less than half of students who enter a community college graduate or transfer to a four-year college within six years, according to a report called "Reclaiming the American Dream: Community Colleges and the Nation's Future." If these community college students aren't serious when paying for their education, imagine how their perspective will deteriorate when it's free? And as a result, the graduation rate will continue to decline." --Steve Seibold. This claim seems to be all about student agency. It's the students' fault that they don't graduate because community college students (read "the underclass") already don't share "our" values. SES and culture become conflated in a fatalistic"there's just some who we can't save from themselves" type of argument. Siebold conveniently ignores the GPA stipulations while simultaneously defending the stratification of higher education by reaffirming the gatekeeper role of the community college--those people go there because they can't cut it in higher tier institutions.
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