"Jill Biden, the wife of the U.S. vice president and longtime educator, says American community colleges could be a pillar of economic recovery and a source of new skills after layoffs — and a model for poorer countries struggling to educate their citizens.
"The World Bank had a similar message in a report Monday that denounces the "hype" surrounding elite universities. The report says developing countries, especially in times of recession, would be better off meeting the educational needs of their local communities and economies than trying to build world-class schools.
"Community colleges are "a gateway in this economy, as people are losing jobs and going for new training," Biden told The Associated Press in a telephone interview late Sunday.
"Biden, who teaches English as a second language at Northern Virginia Community College, called on 28 years of education experience in a keynote speech at a UNESCO forum on higher education in Paris."
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Editorial comment: One would not want to underestimate the contributions made to this country by Harvard, Berkeley, MIT, Cal Tech or the University of Chicago. On the other hand, one should not underestimate the contributions of the other 4000 institutions of higher education. Dr. Biden's suggestion -- that community colleges are an important model that developing nations should study and perhaps utilize -- is clearly useful. Failure to recognize the value of world class research universities would be as dangerous as overvaluing them or assuming they were easier to develop than is in fact the case. JAD