Delve More Deeply Into College Issue

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Editor:

Re: Editorial "Supply, demand should dictate college courses."

I believe your editorial misses two important points. The controversy is not about what classes are being offered to whom, but rather about how those classes are funded and how that funding serves, or does not serve, the community fairly. Previously there was a small fee for the noncredit classes at Gila Community College, which were then self-supporting, thus leaving the tax-generated funds for the college to provide support for the academic programs for those students needing classes that would lead to a certificate or to transfer to a university.

No one is suggesting that seniors not have the classes they desire, or that the community wishes should not influence what classes are offered. Rather, what is at issue is whether most of the funds that taxpayers put into the college should pay for "free" classes for seniors regardless of need, or should mostly support classes needed by those who pay tuition to go to college for certificates or degrees which prepare them for careers. In essence, we are deciding whether we are going to have primarily a "college" -- an academic institution -- or largely fund a program of no-credit/recreational classes such as are offered by Parks and Rec. in some communities.

Secondly, it seems to me that the cart is before the horse when you write, "If enough young people choose to avail themselves of the opportunity to begin their higher education at EAC, the college will offer the courses they need." Students look at what a college offers in deciding where they will go; they do not sign up and hope the college will offer what they want! What student would gamble that the courses they need will be available when they need them, especially from a college that seems to exist primarily to offer classes that are not part of a recognized curriculum? I am told that some academic students have been left high and dry because of the switch back to EAC and I find it telling that your reference is to EAC not Gila Community College, which is what our college is supposed to be. You are right about that, however, because our college has been handed over to EAC and they are the ones who ultimately call the shots about everything, not anyone in our community.

This is a complicated situation and I would respectfully suggest that you delve into this issue more deeply to better inform the community.

Marilyn Decker, Payson

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