Building a 10-year plan for education

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Utah is a state that knows how to execute on a plan.  The Beehive State already has a 10-year energy plan and a long-term economic strategy. Now, Gov. Herbert says it’s time for a long-term education strategy.

The governor made the announcement in cooperation with business and community leaders at the first Academic Excellence Summit hosted by Prosperity 2020 and Education First on Wednesday.

“Today, I am inviting our elected and appointed education leaders to work with me, and let me work with them, in putting together, for the very first time, a comprehensive, strategic 10-year education plan for the State of Utah,” Governor Herbert said. “The plan will allow us to raise the bar for education excellence in this state.”

With input from parents, teachers, community, business and education leaders, the State will determine where our education system needs to be in a decade and the best pathway to get there.

“There has been a lot of talk among policymakers over the past few years about the need to completely reform education,” said Gov. Herbert. “What we ought to be talking about is transforming education.”

Utah cannot have long-term, sustained, continuous economic growth if our labor force doesn’t have the skills that reflect the growing demands of the marketplace. Tomorrow’s labor force is in our classrooms today.

“As part of this overall effort,” said the governor. “I would like to suggest an ambitious goal of making Utah one of the Top 10 states in the nation in public education outcomes in the next 10 years.”

We are already doing well in some areas such as ACT scores, where Utah ranks No. 1 among states where all students take the exam. We are also doing well in science where our 8th grade scores put us in the Top 10 both nationally and internationally. But we have some work to do in other areas.

For example, Utah is ranked 25th in high school graduation rates.We are now graduating 81 percent of our students, which is a nine-point increase from five years ago.

“While I applaud the great progress that has been made, for a state where families value education, having one in every five students fail to graduate is simply not acceptable,” said Gov. Herbert. “We need to do everything we can in the next decade to move from middle of the pack to the Top 10  when it comes to high school graduation rates. This is something we can do and this is something we will do.”

Building upon all past successes and the good that has already been accomplished, the governor told the group he believes Utah education leaders can take the state to a whole new level, but that all must join the effort if we are to succeed in helping Utah students soar to new levels of college and career readiness.