Stelly praises community colleges

March 16, 2007
By Theresa Schmidt

The community college system may be one of the best things the state has done for education in Louisiana. That's according to former State Rep Vic Stelly who is now on the Louisiana Board of Regents.  Stelly says at first he had second thoughts about community colleges but has become convinced community colleges are good for Louisiana. "Well I've got to say, and I have to eat crow a little bit, because it's the hottest thing going in Louisiana right now. We don't have near enough kids in the community colleges yet. We have an inordinate number of our kids still in the four year schools."

Stelly says schools such as Sowela give a much better start for some kids than a four year school-- especially those who did not qualify for TOPS,  the state's merit based scholarship system. "Why have McNeese here beating their brains out, trying to educate kids in remedial courses and what, half of them flunk the first year. Mom and Daddy have been paying the higher tuition to send them to a four year school so they can flunk out? Why not send them to a community college, which costs less than half. Let them see if they'll bow up now, let's see if they're late bloomers. Let's see if they really want to go to college. They go through those two years at Sowela and then move right on to McNeese."

And he says it's good for McNeese. "Meanwhile, McNeese is going to have a much better retention rate. We're not going to have all those freshmen flunking out. When you come to McNeese you'll be college material and you'll make it."

Stelly is a former lawmaker and inductee into the Louisiana Political Hall of Fame. The Louisiana Board of Regents plans, coordinates and has budgetary responsibility for the state's 19 public colleges, universities and professional schools. Stelly filled in as the keynote speaker for McNeese Business Day after Congressman Charles Boustany had to cancel at the last minute.