September 7, 2012

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Education is the Heart of Prosperity 2020

Sarah Cutler

September 7, 2012

The public and private sectors came together to create a plan to promote education among Utahns in order to place the Salt Lake area on the map as a top ten center for technology jobs.

Yesterday Gov. Gary R. Herbert announced the initiative between Prosperity 2020, the governor, the Governor’s Office of Education (GOED) and other partners, at the World Trade Center at City Creek. Prosperity 2020 is a coalition of business leaders focused on improving Utah’s educational outcomes through investment, innovation and accountability.

“We want to be the job creators, we want to be innovators, we want to be on the cutting edge, and particularly on the cutting edge of technology,” Herbert said. “We all know that education is a door that opens up opportunity for us, for our children, our grandchildren. It gives options to us. And those who have the best education have the most options and the greatest economic opportunity in our system here in American and through out the world.”

Three groups of young student scientists attended to demonstrate the capability of educating kids early in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM): Expanding Your Horizons, a science and engineering program for girls – 5th and 6th grade girls from Uintah elementary school; FIRST (for inspiration and recognition of science and technology) Lego League Robotics; and the Salt Lake Center for Science Education and the ‘Think Globally Act Locally’ science program.

Cade Schreiter, a 9-year-old 4th grader at Ensign elementary school, walked confidently around the event with his Lego League Robotics team holding a Lego robot. The Lego creation drew attention from attendees and showed the potential of Utah students.

“We have a goal of 66 by 2020. Meaning that by the year 2020, we need to have our adult population, ages 20-64…to have some kind of post high school certificate or a degree,” said Herbert. “Our applied technology colleges are a big part of that. There’s a lot of opportunity out there for us economically if we have, again, the skills necessary.”

Emphasizing life-long learning Herbert referred to the STEM planning initiative as “K-to-Gray,” beginning with kindergarten and continuing throughout a person’s entire life. And a big part of K-to-Gray involves making sure students can read, with a goal of having 90 percent of elementary students literate in reading, as well as math.

Mark Bouchard, Prosperity 2020 chair, put the importance of reading in to perspective when he said, “There comes a point when you learn to read and there comes a point that you read to learn. And we must make sure that all of our kids can read.”

Prosperity 2020 Goals:

  1. 66 percent of Utahns will have post-secondary certificates and degrees by 2020
  2. 90 percent of Utah elementary students will be proficient in reading and math
  3. the greater Salt Lake area will be a top ten center in technology jobs and businesses
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