Article

Education

Utah Business Staff

August 1, 2012

If 40 to 50 percent of our population is not educated—and we believe educational obtainment not only equals economic success, it means contributions to the community and community success—then what we have to do before we even get to cost is determine what the definition of success is.

Tell us a little bit about Promise Communities and how that rolls into achieving our goals.
BAYLE: United Way of Salt Lake has transformed itself over the last 10 years and we are now focused primarily on education as a foundation along with income, stability and healthy lives because we think they are all very, very intertwined.

We are working in the most challenged neighborhoods in our communities, really focused on where the problems are the worst. We are working with many, many different partners who are all working towards the same goals and outcomes to provide a cradle to career framework for the kids in those neighborhoods. What that means is providing them whatever it takes to succeed so that they and their families can be self reliant and break those cycles that these communities are in.

There is an organization called Latinos in Action; it is an amazing organization and they are in 85 different schools now. One hundred percent of the kids that are involved in Latinos in Action are graduating from high school. Eighty five percent of those kids are going on to postsecondary education.

That’s just one of the many, many partners that we’re working with. We’re working with the schools. We’re working with the business community. We’re working with nonprofits. We’re working with city governments, and it’s showing great success. I think that’s the difference, and it requires all of us working together.

D. HARDMAN: For the original strategy behind the 66 percent, we need to focus on that point in time, 2020, because at that time we’re going to need at least 66 percent to fulfill the needs of business.

Today, we’re turning jobs away because we don’t have qualified people, especially in the high tech fields and the medical field. So as we look at that objective, we have to say there is a quality and a quantity component there. Yes, we can crank people out with some kind of college education, but are they going to be effectively moving in the direction of a career that will produce for the business world?

As others have mentioned, we have technical jobs that we have to export, and we have companies that are making gigantic investments to get around having to hire more people because they are not available. We’re finding that as we connect businesses with the university and the colleges and help them realize what those skill sets are that the students need, there’s amazing results as far as student preparation, and that’s the objective here.

Another very important piece of making this successful is educating our students and getting them engaged early on in their public or private education so that they know where they want to go. And we have to really educate our teachers to be coaching them and giving them more exposure, making the classroom more relevant so that they can see the opportunities that are out there.

Today, many of our teachers are working somewhat in a silo. They focus on what they are teaching, but they don’t teach for the long term purpose of a career and success in life.

We’re hearing a lot about focusing on high-wage, high-demand careers. Is there anyone who disagrees that should be our focus?
M. HARDMAN: I don’t disagree with it. But when you’re talking about early education and about really focusing, our efforts have not been enough. When you look at Asia, the role of the teacher and the training of the teacher is absolutely essential. Teachers in Asia are rock stars. In the primary grades and the secondary grades, they are very much valued. And in spite of all we say about how much we value teachers, that does not translate into what actually happens in the classroom. If they are valued in the classroom, why are we losing 50 percent of our teachers within three years after they go into the field? It’s partly salary. It’s partly support. It’s partly status.

All of that is something we’re not paying attention to. In higher education, we keep saying, public ed, fix it, fix it, fix it—but we don’t. For example, we see teachers who enter into elementary education to avoid math and science. That’s not what they want to do. They don’t see that as part of their role.

Let’s not do this in isolation and focus on Prosperity 2020 as solely a partnership of business and higher education. Public education must be an integral component and we must start much, much sooner.

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