Rubio: “[Higher education reform] is a national priority of the highest order, and one that we have to confront. Because if we fail to confront it, what we will slowly, but surely, become is a stratified economy, divided between haves and have-nots — between those who have higher education and those who do not have higher education.”
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) today delivered remarks at the Association of Community College Trustees National Legislative Summit, where he addressed community college advocates about the importance of higher education reform. The forum came on the heels of Monday’s speech at Miami-Dade College, where Rubio offered proposals for making higher education more affordable and equipping students and adults with the skills needed for 21st century jobs.U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Association of Community College Trustees National Legislative Summit
February 12, 2014
“What we need to do is continue to innovate our higher education system so that we can provide skill acquisition. Yes, to 18-year-olds that graduated high school, but also to 31-year-olds that are trying to empower themselves to acquire the new middle class jobs of the 21st century. And that’s where I think community college has played such a critical role. Why? One, because they’re a lot more accessible. You have more campuses. Your programs are not just built for traditional student profiles. They’re also built for people that can go to school on Saturdays and study online and who need to get a degree quicker. Second, because the costs, quite frankly, are lower than they would be in the traditional four-year system. That’s why I’ve always supported expanding the ability of community colleges to offer some four-year degree programs because the program is more accessible. So you are an important part of it.
“Here’s another important part of it: You are an important bridge between the jobs being created and the people who need jobs. You’re closer to the business community. And you are quicker to adapt in the ability to go to the business community, in a geographic location, and say, ‘Ok, you guys are creating more demand for employers that can do ‘x,’ and we’re going to create a program working with you to make that possible.’ You can do that a lot quicker at the community college level than you can at the four-year university.”
“This is not a partisan issue. It doesn’t need to be. It shouldn’t be. And it can’t be. This is a national priority of the highest order, and one that we have to confront. Because if we fail to confront it, what we will slowly, but surely, become is a stratified economy, divided between haves and have-nots — between those who have higher education and those who do not have higher education. You are already seeing the outlines of it. You are already seeing the social pressures that it places on our country. You are already seeing the divisions it’s creating in American politics.
“And I understand there’s always room for disagreement, and there always will be — on the view of how we can incentivize our economy to grow, on the proper role of government, about what we need to do about our national debt. But I, for one, am tired of being part of a process where I’m always fighting with my fellow Americans when, in fact, the rest of the world is moving ahead. The truth is we are all in this. On this issue, on this economic competition issue, we are all in it together. If so many Americans continue to be left behind because they do not have access to the skills they need, we will all pay the price for that. Every single one of us.”