Community colleges are deeply unsexy. This fact tends to make even the biggest advocates of these two-year schools — which educate nearly half of U.S. undergraduates — sound defensive, almost a tad whiny. "We don't have the bands. We don't have the football teams that everybody wants to boost," says Stephen Kinslow, president of Texas' Austin Community College (ACC). "Most people don't understand community colleges very well at all." And by "most people," he means the graduates of fancy four-year schools who get elected and set budget priorities.
Many politicians and their well-heeled constituents may be under the impression that a community college — as described in a promo for NBC's upcoming comedy Community — is a "loser college for remedial teens, 20-something dropouts, middle-aged divorcées and old people keeping their minds active as they circle the drain of eternity." But there's at least one Ivy Leaguer who is trying to help Americans get past the stereotypes and start thinking about community college not as a dumping ground but as one of the best tools the U.S. has to dig itself out of the current economic hole. His name: Barack Obama.