Helping BCC Helps Us All

New Bedford Standard-Times Editorial
We can’t wait to see the expanded downtown New Bedford campus of Bristol Community College.
With the capacity that $10 million can buy, the school predicts it could double its enrollment, providing another 1,500 seats for SouthCoast students to pursue higher education. Though the funding is not yet certain — Sen. Mark C.W. Montigny estimated that up to $10 million could be approved by the Legislature — it has broad support among the SouthCoast delegation.
That’s great news not only for the students, but for employers and the economic health of the region as a whole. In short, helping BCC helps the people of SouthCoast. They need the school as an entry point for any number of educational opportunities, including traditional two-year degrees, transfer of credits to UMass, literacy programs and non-credit job training.
In an op-ed in The Standard-Times last summer, BCC President John J. Sbrega cited a UCLA analysis, based on data from more than 8 million students, that concluded that U.S. college freshmen are wealthier than at any point in 35 years. Sadly, he said, the data reflect lower-income students being excluded from higher education by rising costs.
Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposal to make community college free by 2015 — the ambitious plan Dr. Sbrega endorsed — may not fly, but clearly the demand for low-cost higher education is such that BCC must make expansion a priority.
Greater access to higher education should translate into better jobs and income for graduates. The presence of educated workers will help draw businesses to locate here. And bringing scores of new people to downtown New Bedford will be another big piece of the city’s rebirth.
We urge legislators who support the expansion funding, including Sen. Montigny and Reps. Antonio F.D. Cabral, John F. Quinn, Robert M. Koczera and Stephen R. Canessa, to keep working to make it a reality.
May 08, 2008

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