Community Colleges, With Help From Obama, Finally Get Into Business

Photograph by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the Community College of Allegheny County on April 16 in Oakdale, Pennsylvania

Photograph by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden at the Community College of Allegheny County on April 16 in Oakdale, Pennsylvania

Community colleges on the whole have done a mediocre job of giving students the educations they need to succeed in the working world. A lot of the schools aren’t in close touch with employers, so professors don’t know about the new skills they need to be teaching. Some view their main job as preparing students to transfer to four-year schools, so they give short shrift to students who want to go to work right away.

Those dysfunctional attitudes are changing, though, and the Obama administration is trying to hurry the transformation. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden went to the Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania this week to announce that $600 million in job-training funds would be redirected to two projects seeking to connect the worlds of education and work better.

The $600 million isn’t new taxpayer dollars; the sum comes from existing money that will be shifted to programs promising more bang for the buck. Obama’s initiative is in two parts, as Bloomberg News explained.