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College & Career

Trump dismisses community colleges during infrastructure speech

Jamie Martines
| Saturday, March 31, 2018, 4:12 p.m.
President Donald Trump speaks on infrastructure development  at the Richfield Training Site, south of Cleveland, Ohio on March 29, 2018.
AFP/Getty Images
President Donald Trump speaks on infrastructure development at the Richfield Training Site, south of Cleveland, Ohio on March 29, 2018.

President Donald Trump doesn't seem to be a fan of community colleges.

Trump visited Ohio Thursday to deliver a speech promoting his new infrastructure plan to a crowd of union engineers and maintenance workers in Richfield, outside of Cleveland. In between promises to repair the country's airports, bridges, highways and other infrastructure, Trump offered his take on a range of issues, including the value of community college, the Washington Post reports.

‘‘I don't know what that means, a community college,'' Trump said during his remarks, the Washington Post reports. ‘‘Call it vocational and technical. People know what that means. They don't know what a community college means.''

Trump previously dismissed community colleges while speaking at the Generation Next White House forum, an event intended to focus on issues impacting young people, in March, Inside Higher Ed reports.

During the event, Trump told a story about a former classmate who was skilled in machine repair, according to Inside Higher Ed.

“But he'll never be a student, nor did he want that kind of learning, that kind of whatever you want to call it,” Trump said, Inside Higher Ed reports. “So we need vocational schools. Now, they call them, a lot of times, community colleges. I don't think it's an accurate definition.”

Trump made similar remarks in January during a speech at a Republican congressional retreat in West Virginia, CNN reports.

“I think vocation is a much better word in a lot of cases than community college,” Trump said in the speech, CNN reports. “A lot of people don't know what community college means or represents.”

Members of the higher education community have taken issue with the president's remarks on community colleges, saying that vocational schools and community colleges serve different purposes.

“We're not using that language interchangeably,” Julie Ajinkya, the vice president of applied research at the Institute for Higher Education Policy, told CNN. “A vocational school prepares an individual to enter a career in a very specific industry by preparing them with the technical skills required for a very specific job.”

Community colleges serve more than 40 percent of undergraduates across the country, according to College Board statistics cited by The Atlantic.

Jamie Martines is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at jmartines@tribweb.com, 724-850-2867 or on Twitter @Jamie_Martines.

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