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Patrick Pushes Plan To Consolidate Mass. Community Colleges

Gov. Deval Patrick on Tuesday drummed up support for his proposal to streamline Massachusetts' community college system — as he outlined in the State of the State Monday.

The governor huddled with Boston Mayor Thomas Menino and several business leaders in Roxbury and reiterated the need to address what he calls a "skills gap." He said unifying the community colleges under one state system, aligning them with businesses, and using them for job training can help get people back to work, filling thousands of vacant positions.

Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish supports the plan and says it will have long-range benefits.

"I don't think this is prescriptively something that's going to transform the environment today. But I think, more importantly, it's going to really transform the environment in the future. And what we're talking about is the next five to 10 to 15 years; we're not talking about the next six months," Fish said.

Some critics say Patrick's new plan will take away too much control from local boards.

But, the state's secretary of Education, Paul Reville, defended the governor's plan, saying there would still be a local voice under the new model, but the state would set the agenda in terms of job training priorities.

"We have 15 separate community colleges who are doing, for the most part, an excellent job of serving their region's need, but don't act very well in concert to serve the commonwealth's need," Reville said.

The governor says his plan is modeled on very successful systems that already exist in places like North Carolina and Washington state.

This program aired on January 24, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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