Generally, government should not compete with private businesses, which is probably why Oregon had a prohibition on public community colleges creating programs that compete with for-profit career colleges.
But Oregon lawmakers, with the support of Gov. John Kitzhaber, wisely repealed the prohibition last week.
Work force training is part of the core mission of community colleges. Consider, for example, the great success Walla Walla Community College has had with its worker-training programs such as maintaining wind turbines and John Deere equipment repair.
The restriction has prevented Oregon community colleges from addressing demand for workers in a variety of fields, such as phlebotomy (drawing blood) truck driving and nursing (all of which are available at WWCC). The private schools can restrict course offerings, making it more likely classes are full and the school is profitable. This likely will cause long waits for programs. That’s not acceptable when industries need workers and workers need job.
Four-year colleges have no problems coexisting. Each fills a niche. In Washington state that holds true for community colleges and trade schools.
Providing access to education for all is a function of government.
Allowing public colleges to provide similar offerings won’t put the private schools out of business. Job training is in high demand right now. In addition, the administration of the various community colleges will seek to add or expand programs if there is demand. If private schools are meeting the demand for certain careers in a community the public school would not simply compete for the sake of competing.
Allowing Oregon CCs to serve their communities makes sense.