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I am an adjunct instructor at a local community college. After serving in the classroom for a number of years, I have made some valuable observations.
Indeed, many students are slow starters and temporarily get "derailed," but those who stick with it often become fast burners because they learn how to learn.
And, in most cases, through mentoring, motivation, and determination, they develop the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace.
Yes, it often takes them 10 years or more to graduate, if they graduate. Yet in the interim they pay taxes, raise families, bring new skills to the workplace, and come out of their corner every day to get it done.
There are students who eventually go to big name universities to become professionals, entrepreneurs, and community activists.
These community colleges are truly a community effort. Local businesses, government agencies, and contractors support higher education in many ways, including tuition assistance. There is accountability, since sponsored students are usually expected to attain a grade of B or above to get reimbursed.
Many businesses and agencies have employees who teach at the community colleges; this brings real-world experience to the classroom.
For me, it has been a real buzz to have former students who are successful, sometimes extremely successful, come back for a visit and say "thanks." It is even better when they want to teach.
The taxpayer should also say thanks because community colleges are a real deal. In the long term, successful students will pay Virginia's tax bill even if they get temporarily derailed because of other obligations, a call to arms, or personal mishaps.
Community college students are not "learning disabled"; they are regular people who take advantage of an opportunity to better themselves and their community.
John C. Feeney