A blackboard in a classroom at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale. (Bill O'Leary/The Washington Post)

Regarding Jay Mathews’s Jan. 18 Education column, “Community college students deserve better than they are getting”:

It is never acceptable for any student to receive poor academic counseling or inadequate instruction. The problems of one student Mr. Mathews described do not represent those of the more than 75,000 who attend Northern Virginia Community College each year. Faculty members agree with NOVA’s president, who described our students as heroes for seeking an education while working and raising families, often while learning English as a second language. Our faculty members have a passion for teaching, win statewide awards and are proud that NOVA’s graduates frequently outperform students who start their educations at four-year colleges.

We can do better, but we are hampered by shrinking state funding. One student’s problems should not diminish a college that represents for many a gateway to the future, a 21st-century Ellis Island. In a political climate noted for bashing ethnic minorities and criticizing immigrants, NOVA quietly turns lives around through a high-quality education.

As the grandson of an Italian immigrant who came through Ellis Island and the first in my family to receive a college education, I am proud to be a community college professor. 

Charles Errico, Falls Church

The writer is a professor and assistant dean at Northern Virginia Community College.