Responses provided by Rep. James R. Roebuck Jr.’s Office
A: As a leader in education, I recognize that the future of our economy and workforce are dependent upon a highly trained and qualified employee. I support funding for Community Colleges and the expansion of existing, and development of new, career pathways for students.
Q: What knowledge, background or skills do you bring to the Community College Caucus?
A: I am a former professor having spent 14 years in the classroom. In addition, I have been the Chairman of the House Democratic Education Committee for the past 18 years, as well as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Community College of Philadelphia and have been actively involved in the issues facing our Community Colleges.
Q: How would you describe the impact of community colleges in your district and statewide?
A: Community colleges provide young people with a foundation on which to build successful lives. It affords them the opportunity to better themselves and to reach their dreams.
Q: What motivates you to improve access to education in Pennsylvania?
A: If we want to keep up with the ever-changing workforce, Pennsylvania needs to prioritize increasing attainment of education certificates and associates degrees for our working families. Community Colleges help achieve that by providing the most affordable options for students to obtain a degree.
Q: What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing community colleges in the Commonwealth?
A: One issue facing community colleges is keeping the students in school until graduation. The primary challenge is remedial students who struggle at the beginning of their college career, and shortly give up and drop out before completing their degree. We need to close the gap! Students need to come ready to learn.
Across the board, the price of attending college has risen dramatically in recent years. While Community college has been the most affordable option, they are no longer the exception to this trend.
Q: Anything else?
A: Investing in higher education, and in community colleges in particular, is one of the best investments a state can make. Pennsylvania needs to improve its investment in its community colleges to ensure they remain an accessible and affordable pathway to higher education for students.