Trump still unclear about community colleges

President Donald Trump again says he's not clear what community colleges do. (Photo: Associated Press)

The plan was for President Donald Trump to promote his $1.5 trillion infrastructure plan during his speech Thursday in Richfield, Ohio.

He did, but he touched on a lot more — from upcoming talks with North Korea, to constructing a wall on the Mexican border, to terrorism, to the ratings of the new “Roseanne” television show. He also brought up community colleges.

While promoting the infrastructure plan and the good-paying jobs that he says the plan would bring, Trump touted apprenticeships and his efforts to increase training for jobs in the skilled trades. He also reiterated that he doesn’t understand community colleges and said that Americans are also confused.

“When I was growing up we had what were called vocational schools. They weren’t called community colleges, cause I don’t know what that means, a community college,” Trump said. “To me it means a two-year college, but I don’t know what it means. … Call it vocational and technical, perhaps. People know what that means. We don’t know what a community college means.”

That’s something Trump has already said on several occasions this year, and it still baffles many education advocates.

The Association of Career and Technical Education (ACTE), which represents mainly secondary institutions but also has postsecondary members, noted that students and employers value community colleges and what they offer.

“Students earning industry-recognized credentials and two-year degrees at the nation’s community colleges increase their earning potential and gain the skills needed to fill high-demand careers,” ACTE said in a press release following the president’s speech on Thursday.

ACTE also questioned the apparent disconnect between the president and his cabinet on the issue, particularly Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Labor Secretary Alex Acosta, both of whom have met with national community college leaders, visited community colleges and praised them for their academic and technical education programs.

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