Community Colleges Growing

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Florida needs 29,000 new teachers next year, but state universities will graduate just 5,000. Nursing is facing a similar shortfall, so to meet the demand a few community colleges in the state are now offering bachelor degrees. A new plan by the Board of Education is expected to open the door to more programs.

Community college student Jessica Hardwick sees it as a practical option.

Jessica says, “I would go for it. The classes are smaller and they’re more affordable for me.”

Two thousand students are now enrolled in the programs at six Florida community colleges. The new plan by the Board of Education involves approving the curriculum and making sure the community has a need. Education officials say demand for the programs has been overwhelming

David Armstrong of the Florida Department of Education says, “The demand is very strong. We have many adults who can’t pick up and move to where our universities are or travel back and forth, but they have a community college in their neighborhood.”

While Florida’s community colleges are filling a need, some say lawmakers need to make sure the trend doesn’t go too far.

Bill Law, President of Tallahassee Community College, says, “We need to make sure we don’t wake up some day in the future with something different, but we don’t quite know what it is. I think the need for a little bit of caution is there.”

Each community college will decide which, if any, four-year programs it wants to start offering. The community colleges will have to answer to the Board of Education, not the Board of Governors, which oversees universities in the state.