Photo via Greg Wohlford, Erie Times-News.
Without further ado, your Idiotville feel-good story of the week:
I know. It’s an incendiary topic around here. Many of you will see this headline and go straight to the comments section to voice your displeasure in their ruling without reading the story. The debates about funding have continued for years. While some believe that a mixture of gaming revenue, tuition and private donations will cover the local share of the costs, others argue that a community college will inevitably lead to higher property taxes.
While many will continue to see red whenever they see they see the phrase “Community College” posted on any sort of media, we are not here to discuss funding. We are discussing how a Community College can have a positive influence on our community.
It will have a positive influence. In fact, one of the three necessary conditions for approving Erie County’s application for this community college is “that there exists an unmet educational need.” Yesterday’s vote of approval, then, was an acknowledgement that such a need exists in Erie and that a community college will fulfill that need, at least in part.
The need for this type of education may not be obvious to all, and if you are among the group questioning whether such a need exists, I would encourage you to hear the perspective of Bishop Dwane Brock of the Victory Christian Center and the Eagles Nest Leadership Corp, quoted in the GoErie article arguing that the existing Northern Pennsylvania Regional College (NPRC) does not adequately serve Erie:
“Let’s not dance around the issue. We’re talking about African-Americans in a very, very poor demographic. I have been in Erie for 40 years. I have never seen the NPRC reach out to the African-American community, who have been marginalized historically…I’ve been on the front lines for 40 years in this city. To this point there has not been a concerted effort to reach the marginalized community to prepare them economically or intellectually for the work force. This is what the community college, a bricks-and-mortar community college, would be prepared to do.” -Bishop Dwane Brock.
I wouldn’t stop there, either. In fact, I would bet that at least one person loudly voicing their opposition to an Erie Community College on a Facebook comment board today will benefit from this in the future. Because once this opportunity exists, it exists for everyone. That’s what a community is all about.
The question isn’t whether there will be costs. There will be costs. We can spend years debating exactly how these costs will be distributed in years 11-20 and beyond, and we will all share in those costs one way or another, but while we have those debates we shouldn’t forget the measurable benefits of education to our community.
We are focused on those benefits today. The grant of opportunity to a community that has lacked it for so long is good news.