Education: Shelves of Learning

It was a typical evening at Triton College outside Chicago. In Technology Center, Instructor Joe Kroc explained measuring instruments to his students in Basic Refrigeration and Air Conditioning 010. Inside a cavernous garage, machines whined and motors roared as a squad of grease-smeared men labored over disassembled cars for Auto Technology 036. And in a classroom in Liberal Arts Hall, students in Philosophy 102 discussed linguistic fallacies.

Triton exemplifies a new type of college that is redefining the concept for many Americans: the public community college. From The Bronx to West Los Angeles,...

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