Community college plan requires study

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 26, 2004

Tribune editorial staff

Wouldn't you like for Lawrence County to have a new community college? On the surface, the question sounds rather simple and pretty much a no-brainer.

And that's a question that lots of folks have been asking around the county lately after administrators with Collins Career Center and State Rep. Clyde Evans have sought the designation change from the state.

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It seems simple enough. A new school would be good. A new school would be better - better because it is new.

We're not convinced yet. We're glad the Lawrence County Commissioners last week asked for a study to be done to more accurately gauge the needs involved. Although the commissioners did so begrudgingly, seeking more information on the Collins Career Center request is the right thing to do. The debate shouldn't be about turf battles and political posturing, it should be about the facts. Several local leaders have attempted to make the issue highly political, the Lawrence County version of the "axis of evil." Their attitude is: Either you are 110 percent with us or you are against us.

Reality is rarely that black and white.

And, their words imply, being against us means you are against the future of higher education in Lawrence County.

That's what Washington politicos call "spin." We normally aren't forced to swallow gulps that size in local issues.

Questioning the logic of the change doesn't mean a person questions the good graces of Collins Career Center, its staff or its students.

Just because a group of people thinks we need a community college, isn't reason enough to just jump in with both feet. Let's pause to consider the real need. How Collins might fill that need and why the other higher education options in the area are not filling that need, if indeed they are not.

Lawrence County has a wonderful university partner in Ohio University Southern. With campuses in Ironton and Proctorville, OUS has served the community well for years. Another obvious question the study should explore is: What effect would a Collins Career transformation have on OUS and its future, including the highly touted new Proctorville Center soon-to-be built.

Lots of questions have yet to be answered. Hopefully the study will help turn the "spin" into facts so that all citizens of Lawrence County can make educated decisions on an important educational matter.