Community colleges are the most democratic forms of higher education, and, you could argue, the most important. Don't tell that to the state of Arizona.

The trend in America is towards acceptance of the fact that there should be more public funding and support for community colleges, which educate nearly half of our nation's undergrads during any given year, and tend to be much more accessible to working people and minorities than four-year colleges are. It is just common sense for states to direct funds to their community colleges to help make them as open as possible. It is an obvious public good.

With that in mind, consider what the brilliant loons who run state politics in Arizona are doing right now: they have cut state subsidies for two community college districts that serve the state's three most populous counties down to zero dollars. Zero. Inside Higher Ed notes that just five years ago, these two districts were getting a combined $70 million from the state; now, they're scheduled to get nada.

This means that Republican state legislators have chosen to cut support for entities that educate hundreds of thousands of the type of Arizona students least able to pay increased tuition and fees. (One of the districts, seeking to avoid charging its students more, has gone begging to corporations for support, essentially marketing themselves as an explicit corporate-training center rather than what you might think of as a "school.") And what principle were these brave legislators defending as they zeroed out these education funds? From the Arizona Republic: "The deeper higher-ed cuts appear tied to Republican legislative leaders' rejection of a $6 or $7 increase in auto registration fees at the Department of Motor Vehicles."

That's some smart legislatin'.

[Photo of a mascot that can no longer be afforded: FB]

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