State budgets are in terrible shape all over the country. As reported here frequently, the revenue shortfalls are occurring simultaneously with a pressing need for schools to enroll unemployed students who need to retrain in the wake of the recession.
Community colleges in several states have begun to turn students away, according to a recent article in the Washington Post.
This is hardly news regarding highly competitive programs such as nursing, which has long experienced shortages in faculty and other resources. However, according to the article, students have also been prevented from enrolling in general education courses such as math and biology. One of the hardest hit states is Nevada, where community colleges don't have anywhere near the resources to serve the growing demand. In terms of sheer numbers, California undoubtedly takes the prize, not unexpectedly. The state's community colleges turned away 140,000 students last year because of budget cuts.
An excerpt form the Post article by Peter Whoriskey:
All over the United States, community college enrollments have surged with unemployed and underemployed people seeking new skills.
But just as workers have turned to community colleges, states have cut their budgets, forcing the institutions to turn away legions of students and stymieing the efforts to retrain the workforce.
Unemployment is highest among the nation's lesser-educated workers, and for them, community colleges offer a critical pathway to new jobs: Classes are open, relatively cheap and often tailored to picking up job skills.
The process of retraining these workers is considered vital to rebuilding the economy.
The institutions are "a gateway for millions of Americans to good jobs and a better life," President Obama said at a community college summit in the fall.
But with waning state budgets, that gateway is narrowing.
Even as community college enrollments have climbed during the recession, 35 states cut higher education budgets last year, and 31 will cut them for next, according to survey data from the National Association of State Budget Officers. Those shortages are expected to worsen next year when federal stimulus money that had plugged holes in state budgets is no longer available.