Let’s create culture of lifelong learning
The News editorial, “ECC’s headache,” should make us wonder, “How can this be?”
The editorial’s bottom line is that in New York State, Erie Community College ranks second from the bottom with a 22 percent graduation rate and Jamestown Community College ranks third from the top with only a 36 percent graduation rate.
Even more discouraging, enrollment in Western New York community colleges declined 12 percent in the past decade. Starting and finishing any educational system should be seen as an important community as well as personal objective, especially now.
I believe for the Greater Buffalo area to prosper in the 21st century, we must imagine new incentives to motivate both starting and completing lifelong learning practices, especially at our community colleges, which serve as bridges to other institutions of higher education or better jobs. Just as Say Yes to Education Buffalo has a focus on Buffalo Public School graduation rates to go to college, so too should our entire community focus on helping to create a culture of lifelong learning, with an emphasis on community colleges.
A recent News article about Assembly House 150 organized by Dennis Maher, architect and artist, and the collaborative effort of various organizations, including the Albright-Knox’s Innovation Lab and Erie County Department of Social Services, stirred my imagination. What other creative and meaningful lifelong learning opportunities are possible?
Last March, President Trump stated that he wanted to create 5 million apprenticeships in 5 years. Fareed Zakaria called it a good idea that needs funding. Let’s imagine how to build on the success of Assembly House 150 and connect it with ECC and other community colleges and help achieve that 5 million national goal.
Imagine the library system, cultural organizations, foundations, public and private sectors all focusing on the theme of lifelong learning and creatively and publicly marking the measurement of achieving our goals.
ECC needs to do its part to improve graduation rates but Greater Buffalo needs to its part, too.
Founder, Downtown Buffalo & Erie County Public Library IMAGINE Series