One of the few doors left open to minorities, disadvantaged, and high risk groups is being closed at a time when we need the productivity only an educated work force can provide. In the nineteen nineties we virtually closed universities to them, and in the decades that followed, the doors of community colleges squeaked close. Their last bastion of hope, for profit institutions, are now closing their doors in response to new government mandates.

For years access to main stream Universities by minorities and other at risk populations has been blocked as universities employed “educational necessity “to admission standards which often have the effect of excluding minorities and at risk populations. The end of affirmative action, gave universities a great deal of latitude to structure their student bodies almost any way they chose. The test of “educational necessity” was a generalized rule that required universities to employ testing which had been validated, and had some relation to fulfilling an educational need. In order to make the student bodies more diverse, to meet research needs, and a long list of other requirements could be, and often were used to include or exclude groups of individuals. All that the courts required was that the testing be validated and for furtherance of educational goals. The result was an overall reduction in minority participation in those schools. Let me be clear, growth did occur, but not in proportion to main stream America. In many cases minority participation was one fifth that of non- minorities, and in the last few years has been in decline. A lot of this can be attributed to the general state of k-12 education in this country. Schools in urban centers and poor rural communities where most minorities are found have fewer resources, teachers with less training and pay, and less overall preparation for college. Their chances of getting into a tier one university are slim. Minorities had to look to the community college system to fulfill the American dream of getting a college education.

The Community College system found its maximum growth in the nineteen sixties with large numbers of boomers seeking educational degrees for job advancement. States responded with the expansion of the community college system to a large number of technical and other programs to meet this need. With the closure of universities to many minorities, the community colleges became a viable option. This system was accessible, because there was an open admissions policy allowing anyone to enter and take classes. Significant numbers of minority and high risk students entered these institutions because of the open admission policy, and failed to survive the first year. Coming from sub-standard high schools, they lacked the skill sets to succeed. It was not long before the keepers of the public purse began to look at these failures and to employ certain metrics to ensure the public money was being well spent. This forced a change in standards as agencies looked at graduation statistics, retention, and repayment numbers to be sure dollars were not being wasted. Those schools not meeting the metrics would lose federal funding. Most institutions today depend on federal dollars to keep their doors open. If their numbers are outside those the federal government requires, they take steps to correct the situation. In response, Community colleges put in place remedial courses, and under protection of “educational necessity” shunted these problem students into these courses, so they did not actually count against their statistics. Technically, these students were not officially part of the student body while in these remedial classes. Students would then be required to spend years simply getting ready to take college courses. This added expense, and a great deal of time to degree completion. Some students would spend up to five years getting a two year degree. Even if the student completed the remedial courses, they would often find themselves out of sequence to get the college courses they needed. The student would have to wait until the course was offered again, which might be the next year. Subsequently, students dropped out at record rates. That left only the for profit institutions as a path for many of these students to get degrees.

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