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Letter: Education should be priority

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One of the primary missions of a community college is to provide anyone access to a college education. This access comes without the pedigree or financial burden usually required at either a private college or major university.

Recent articles in the West Central Tribune (Oct. 6, page A9) have touted the importance of community colleges as vital to producing an educated workforce. Over the last decade, however, there has been a funding shift whereby the state's contribution to the cost of education at the community colleges has been reduced significantly. Students have been required to make up the difference.

This trend cannot continue, which is why I am supporting Larry Rice for the state Senate in District 13.

In St Paul, he will make education a top priority. He knows that a strong educational system is key to producing strong communities and a vibrant workforce. In the last two years, as an instructor at Ridgewater College, I have had students tell me that they can afford to put their child in daycare or buy the textbook for my class -- but not both.

This is a direct result of inadequate funding from the Legislature, as well as reductions in federal financial aid. The state Legislature needs to reprioritize education funding. Larry Rice knows this and supports a common-sense approach -- meaning lawmakers must keep all options on the table -- to stabilizing our education funding. By making education a priority, the community college can resume its mission of providing everyone the opportunity for a higher education.

John Benson

Willmar

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