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DEAR FELLOW NEBRASKANS: Advancing college access and success in Nebraska PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wauneta Breeze   
Thursday, 19 May 2011 16:47

By Nebraska Governor

Dave Heineman


I was pleased to join a number of education leaders and others interested in creating opportunities for more Nebraska students to pursue higher education at the Nebraska College Access Summit.

We want to provide our kids the best education that we can and prepare them to compete in a knowledge-based, technology driven, global, free-market economy. We want to make sure we create quality, high-paying careers so that after they have received a great education, our sons and daughters have excellent opportunities right here in Nebraska.

Nebraska’s P-16 Initiative is playing an important part in this effort by uniting policymakers and business and education leaders in strengthening Nebraska’s education system. As chair of Nebraska P-16, I was pleased to welcome Jamie Merisotis, head of the Lumina Foundation for Education, to the College Access Summit.

The Lumina Foundation is the largest private organization dedicated solely to enrolling and graduating more college students. They have embraced a goal of 60 percent of Americans having high quality two-year or four-year degrees by 2025.

It is an ambitious goal. In 2008, 40 percent of Nebraska adults had attained an associate’s degree or higher, which is above the national average but not on pace to meet the 2025 goal of 60 percent. Projections based on our current data predict that by 2018 50 percent of adults will have earned some kind of degree. We are on the right trajectory but our current efforts are not enough. We will need to do more to help students and those interested in returning to college set and attain educational goals.

Fulfilling the vision of a rigorous education that prepares students for the modern workforce will require that we think and do things differently. We need to take greater advantage of technology. We need to improve online learning capacity. We need more college students to complete their degrees and they need a clear path to graduation in four, not six years. Access to college and higher learning could be strengthened if our colleges and universities, in partnership with donors, focused on the creation of more new scholarships, not new buildings.

The P-16 Initiative has outlined a series of goals to position more Nebraska students for college and the jobs of the future. Jobs in Nebraska and across America require at least a two year degree, and preferably four years of college. Our P-16 goals for higher education call for improving Nebraska’s college-going rate to the Top 10 in the nation. We want Nebraska students to have affordable access to our colleges and universities. We need to have high expectations for every K-12 student and help more get on the path to college.

Nebraska is attracting more quality jobs. We need professionals with a solid educational foundation and the skills and training that higher learning provides to fill these jobs now, and in the future.

We have to deliver more. I am passionate about education and I want every student in Nebraska to have the opportunity for a great education. The College Access Summit provided a good forum for this discussion. I look forward to working with schools, colleges, businesses, and others to tackle these challenges and create more opportunities in Nebraska.