First Lady Jill Biden Gives Community Colleges a Major Platform
It’s wonderful to have such a strong advocate for ongoing and accessible education in a position of such power and influence. I’m referring, of course, to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden. Dr. Biden stands out for her role as a community college teacher as well as for her plans to continue teaching English at Northern Virginia Community College.
For me, there’s a personal element to the excitement of seeing an educator in the White House. I was fortunate enough to hear Dr. Biden speak at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) Annual Conference in 2015. She talked about the value that community college education brings to the people she serves as a teacher and educator. Her philosophy is closely aligned with my own values.
At that same conference, I also had the opportunity to hear Alex Charters, revered theorist in the field of adult education and co-founder of The Adult and Continuing Education Research Collection at Syracuse University. I was so captivated by Dr. Charters’ speech on continuing education that I drove to Syracuse and took him out to lunch. We discussed the evolution of adult and continuing education: how the post-World War II G.I. Bill created new avenues for education, ultimately leading to the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the rise of community colleges.
Post-secondary education in America is currently at a crossroads: we need to rethink everything from credentialing to the sequence of higher education to how we can best teach and learn in the information age.
During the rise of the community college, school had to take place in person. So colleges made use of high school classrooms or municipal buildings during off hours, when they could. Now, several decades later, the potential for higher education seems limitless. While there are socioeconomic issues, such as inequitable access to reliable broadband internet, that must be promptly resolved, we have the opportunity to deliver education in an array of effective methods and formats.
In the near future, I see community colleges evolving to play a similar role in their communities as libraries have come to serve during the information age: a repository of information that is primarily accessed online. What steps can we begin taking to help these institutions better serve people seeking higher education?
It’s exciting to have Dr. Biden in a position of influence as we endeavor to move forward. Already, Dr. Biden has called for free access to community college and training programs, signaling that the Biden administration will prioritize these schools in an effort to rebuild the economy. Dr. Biden’s long-term influence on our country’s educational future remains to be seen, but I’m hopeful she’ll lead us in the right direction.
At MindMax, we take pride in our work with adult education departments at community colleges and other higher education institutions. We believe in college accessibility—not only for the typical 18-year-old on-campus freshman, but for adult learners as well. If your school needs help finding and enrolling qualified students in the right programs, let’s connect.