At a Legislative Budget Board hearing Tuesday on funding for community colleges, Texas AFT voiced strong support for funding community colleges that recognizes the high value of this critical resource. That means full state funding (less tuition and fees that enable affordable access) of community-college operational costs–including the full amount of health-care premiums for all employees. Fully funding operational costs is the very minimum state effort necessary to enable community colleges to meet the important tasks they face.
The importance of public higher education and particularly the key role played by community colleges in the education of individual Texans and the economic development of Texas are well established. Further, community colleges deliver education at relatively low cost with content that meets the needs of individual students, employers, and the communities to which the colleges are directly connected. Public community-college enrollment is large and growing rapidly. Some 670,000 community college students now account for half of all higher-education enrollment in Texas and 55 percent of enrollment at public general higher-education institutions in the state. Just over the four-year period from 2004 to 2008, community colleges accounted for two-thirds of all higher-education enrollment growth in Texas.