66 by 2020: Utah has 7 years to reach college degree goal and top the nation

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  • SLC gal Salt Lake City, UT
    May 2, 2013 8:49 a.m.

    "The dedication to Utah and it's pioneer history and the attention given to school plays and art projects is detrimental to the pursuit of quality educated HS graduates."

    Sorry Runner, I have to disagree. that those projects are detrimental. For me and a LOT of my peers, band, and theater, and other art activies that you so easily dismiss were essential to qualify for the scholarships that paid for college.

    Theater in particular, has a lot to teach about presentation, and confidence. Real world skills. There's also a lot to be said about the educational value of picking up an instrument.

    The issue with our educational system is theres not enough real world application. If I had understood how geometry was essential to my future, I might have actually cared enough to pay attention.

  • 1Observer Cottonwood Heights, UT
    May 1, 2013 7:24 a.m.

    I will be surprised if they get to 50%. Utah's colleges continue to raise tuition making higher education less affordable for our students. Getting much past 50% will also require a major push with adults over 30 to go back to school to obtain a degree or certificate. I have seen nothing in the "plan" to assist adults in returning to school. This "laudable goal" is really just a ploy to get more money for education. I agree public education needs more money, but let's be honest about what we are going to get and why. I am all for public education getting more money if there is some accountability tied to it. But to throw money at a system that continues to graduate students from high school who then need to spend much of their first year in college remediating subjects is unacceptable. Let's fix our K-12 system and focus on better results there. If you do that, the college degrees will naturally follow. As for the post-college age crowd, if the business leaders want them to get degrees, they better consider adding education support as a benefit instead of looking to taxpayers to fund job-training.

  • Fern RL LAYTON, UT
    April 30, 2013 10:07 p.m.

    The thing about this goal that concerns me most is that it should be a percentage of all adults, and not just those in the workforce, say from age 25 to 65.

    Whether or not it is practical for many older adults to return to college, it is surely less so for those who have already retired, nor can we expect the degrees to be handed out to the younger adults fresh out of high school.

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    April 29, 2013 3:25 p.m.

    Perhaps I should explain why a Californian should care about Utah's schools. I grew up in Salt Lake City and attended Skyline High School. At the time, I felt like I was getting a good education. However after graduating college and moving to California I realized that my education was fairly average. Now looking at the recent test results (and Skyline's results in particular) I am shocked. Was it always bad, or has it gone tremendously downhill since I graduated in the 1970's? At a minimum, it is not good for my resume if Utah's high schools and colleges are not well regarded nationally.

  • Harvester of Eyes Vancouver, BC
    April 29, 2013 3:16 p.m.

    1. Increase teacher salaries - so low in the U.S. - does not attract "the best"
    2. Start career planning earlier - of course kids are not engaged and less than enthusiastic about education if they cannot see a clear path to something they want. Motivation will follow having a "fire in the belly" for some particular career or occupation.
    3. Avoid the "college is best" bias for all youth.
    4. Embrace corporate-education collaborations (particularly STEM related)- look at the Siemens model in Germany
    5. Don't be afraid to stream kids out of high school and into technology/trade streams well before the normal 12th grade graduation time.
    6. Create an IEP (Individual Education Plan) for each child.

  • Wastintime Los Angeles, CA
    April 29, 2013 12:57 p.m.

    The aim is slow so low here and the level of denial is so high that it is frustrating!

    When the recent US news high school rankings came out and only three Utah high schools were rated in the top 1000 in the country, that should have caused much concern and hand-ringing. But other than face reality, we fantasize about taking jobs from Silicon Valley and Los Angeles due to our highly educated population and having the highest percentage of college graduate from out beloe-mediocre schools. California, with its superior high schools and university systems must be shaking in their boots. BYU's 107th rated engineering program is really going to draw away quality businesses who can draw from schools like Cal Tech, Harvey Mudd and UCLA in the south and Stanford and Berkeley in the north.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    April 29, 2013 12:15 p.m.

    Good point about quality over quantity. If we could get as little as 10% of people with college degrees that actually know something and can do something of value, we would be doing quite well.

    If we actually want people that will help the economy we need to focus on producing self-motivated individuals that have high goals, are committed to doing what it takes to reach them, and are proficient in the art of acquiring knowledge. We need people that do not expect to have been taught all the skills necessary to solve a particular problem in advance, but have the ability to acquire the skills they lack on the go.

    Consider a race over a distance that is sufficiently long. If your acceleration is greater than that of your competitor it does not matter that he gets a head start or that is he is initially going faster - you eventually win. Education system can give the head start and initial velocity, but it is the values taught in the family that provide the acceleration.

  • Steven S Jarvis Orem, UT
    April 29, 2013 12:01 p.m.

    I find it interesting that the State has no plan for how to accomplish this goal other than to ask for plans to be made by others. I would suggest first creating a demand for degrees in the state by bringing in those types of employers that need them. We have plenty of jobs (such as Governor) that don't require any education at all. The ratio of jobs that require degrees needs to be higher than 66.6% compared to jobs that do not require degrees in order to keep those who have earned degrees from leaving the state post-degree to where they can actually gain employment. I would expect that Utah's employment market is not skewed appropriately to make such a goal possible. As people graduate they must move to where the jobs actually are.

  • Tators Hyrum, UT
    April 29, 2013 11:48 a.m.

    It's almost laughable to read some of the would-be experts making comments on this subject. Some are actually pretty good. But others are actually asinine. Out of staters making subjective assessments on Utah education mostly fall into the latter category.

    Do some actual research before making judgments! Google state school performance rankings and read the results. Yes, Utah is low in per student expenditures. But it is almost right in the middle in education expenditures per-capita income. Utah's rather unique demographics should be considered before making too many harsh judgments.

    Another notable statistic. Utah is actually above average in many of the student performance rankings... inspite of it's expenditures per pupil. Also, it's percentages of high school graduates and those who attend college is higher than national averages.

    Many of the larger corporations who have been recently relocating to Utah state the level of education (university graduate numbers and percentages) and quality of those graduates (bilingual, etc.) are reasons for their relocating to Utah. Such things are noteworthy.

  • Obama10 SYRACUSE, UT
    April 29, 2013 11:12 a.m.

    66% of Utah will have higher student loan debt by 2020 should have been the headline. I think college is important, but not for everyone. Some kids don't like school and don't do well in school. There should be other opportunities for them like apprenticeships and on the job training. Unfortunately, a high percentage of high school graduates, (not just Utah) are unprepared for the rigors of college which we see in the number of kids starting college but not graduating.

    April 29, 2013 10:54 a.m.

    While this is a laudable goal, I have to ask the obvious question; how? How do we propose to do this?

    1. Smaller class sizes help. They also require hiring more teachers which costs money.
    2. Better, more experienced teachers help a lot. They also don't work for peanuts.
    3. A more diverse curriculum with hands on emphasis in science and mathematics. This also costs money.

    Our governor and state legislature seem to want a better education for our children. But they won't fork over the money for it. I have seen several articles on DN where our state is asking the federal government for hundreds of millions of dollars for the prison. Why don't they ask the same for the schools?

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    April 29, 2013 10:29 a.m.

    Actually, Runner, history and civics are best taught when students begin learning about their local municipality, then state, next U.S. History, and finally ending up with world history. It's a progression. State history is taught in the 4th and 7th grades. It is that way in most states.

    Studies have also shown that students who participate in the fine arts do better in their core classes. Music students do especially well in math. Go figure.

  • milner Centerfield Sanpete, UT
    April 29, 2013 9:39 a.m.

    Never happen! Some people just don`t want to go to school and alot of other people that want to go will never get the chance!

  • Runner Chandler, AZ
    April 29, 2013 9:27 a.m.

    Max, We have also lived in different states and the history program has always been based on US history...not the specific state.

    carman's point about the lack of STEM type graduates is the very point that Utah education should be addressing. The dedication to Utah and it's pioneer history and the attention given to school plays and art projects is detrimental to the pursuit of quality educated HS graduates. It's true that they may graduate from HS and yes, they may go on to college but they just cannot compete in today's modern world with such a soft background.

    As carman said, "If you haven't had children in schools outside of Utah, you probably don't understand how poor the schools here are doing."

    So true, so true..

  • Moabmom Moab, UT
    April 29, 2013 9:21 a.m.

    This governor once again emphasizing "quantity" over "quality". Utah would be better served to concentrate on graduating kids from high school that can actually read, write a proper sentence and do basic math. Stop pushing kids through to the next grade level to meet quotas and improve teacher ratings until they have mastered these basic life skills. A college degree is a choice, not a quota requirement. As it stands now, we are pushing a lot of kids into colleges that have no business there and may not even want to go to college. Very few are there because they are really hungry for knowledge and even fewer understand the mountain of debt they are encuring on themselves or their parents or the taxpayers of Utah. Since the DOE was invented by the Federal Gov't in the 70's, it has been the biggest money pit to the American taxpayer with the least results. Quality of education has steadily gone down hill while costs have skyrocketed.

  • Instereo Eureka, UT
    April 29, 2013 8:49 a.m.

    I'm pretty sure that teacher unions want the same thing the Governor is proposing. Teacher unions have been advocating for better conditions in schools for a long time and will continue to advocate for strong public schools. When we have strong public schools, we'll have the 66% by 2020. As for the debate about money, we all believe you get what you pay for, it seems to me we should be willing to pay for best to get the best.

  • carman Wasatch Front, UT
    April 29, 2013 8:01 a.m.

    Two comments for the governor:

    1) Equally, if not more important than the % of the population with college degrees, is the relevance/quality of the knowledge gained. We are turning out too many college GRADUATES who don't have the knowledge, critical thinking, and life-long learning attitude to be successful in the job market. Turning out more low-skilled, liberal arts grads without strong quantitative and critical thinking skills will only put the state and these students in debt, with limited benefit to anyone.

    2) If we want to reach 66% with (relevant) college/technical degrees, we need to actually start preparing the majority of students for college level work. Utah primary and secondary schools do a dismal job of preparing most students to move on to college. At our "top 5" high school, not even HALF of the students are prepared, without remedial courses, for college. To fix it, we will need:

    1) More investment in math, science, statistics, etc.
    2) Fewer young, inexperienced teachers
    3) Higher expectations for learning and critical thinking, and less grade inflation.

    If you haven't had children in schools outside of Utah, you probably don't understand how poor the schools here are doing.

  • DC Alexandria, VA
    April 29, 2013 6:56 a.m.

    So where are all of these new graduates going to work? If the Utah economy called for it, there would be more people in Utah with degrees. Getting a degree for the sake of getting a degree isn't a plan. All it does is add to one's debt.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    April 29, 2013 6:29 a.m.

    @DN Subscriber: the issue here has nothing to do with teacher unions but has everything to do with having a better educated workforce. I will tell you that based on 28 years in education that the students coming into our doors at the high school level are increasingly less motivated to learn and study than students were ten years ago. Teachers are under the gun to help increase graduation rates to prove to the general,public that they are doing a "better" job in the classrooms. Students know that because of the push for higher graduating rates that they can attend school less, at least in Granite School District, and still have that teacher bend over backwards to pass them because that teacher's evaluations are being based (partly) on failure rates in the classroom. Until this changes we will not have a better educated workforce. Only one with pieces of paper and not one with a fountain of knowledge.

  • Esquire Springville, UT
    April 29, 2013 5:25 a.m.

    The question is whether Utah will make the investment. And those who say it's not the money that matters are just making an excuse not to invest, and Utah will continue to have mediocre results. It's simple, really.

  • Max Charlotte, NC
    April 29, 2013 3:25 a.m.


    We have lived in several states and in every one of them our kids were taught about the history of the state.

  • Runner Chandler, AZ
    April 28, 2013 10:15 p.m.

    Utah has two major issues with their education.

    1) Money. To say, "As an organization, 'throwing money' at a problem never solves it." is actually quite wrong. Spending money for education in today's modern environment is actually the very thing to do. Obviously it has to be managed and directed properly, but effort without resources only leads to frustration.

    2) K-12 Curriculum. For some reason Utah has this fascination with the liberal arts/humanities in their K-12 programs. They also have this fixation with Utah history...I mean outside of the borders of this state, who cares? And the focus on the humanities, music, plays, performances, etc., only increases their lack of STEM education that much more.

    There needs to be more resources made available, i.e., the people of Utah need to show what their priorities are not just talk the talk, and they should offer more choice in curriculum selection and not be so top-down, mandate driven.

  • DN Subscriber Cottonwood Heights, UT
    April 28, 2013 10:15 p.m.

    Wow, the teachers' union reps are out early tonight.

    66 by 2020 is a laudable goal.

    However, a more urgent goal should be that the 90% of students who graduate from high school by 2020 should be 100% proficient in High School level skills. Too much college work is remedial stuff that should have been mastered in K-12, or the student should not have been graduated.

    As some have noted above, parental involvement and cultural emphasis on getting a good education are essential. Spending more money or hiring more teachers or reducing class sizes will not fix the problem if the family and culture do not push the students and demand they work hard and achieve goals.

    That is the difference between a freedom based society and one based on nanny state theories that spending more money doing the same thing will yield different results.

    Those who work hard and study and achieve will succeed and prosper. Those who so not, and blame everyone else will never prosper or succeed.

  • satch Highland, UT
    April 28, 2013 9:23 p.m.

    Money won't buy success in schools, but the lack of it will guarantee failure.

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    April 28, 2013 9:20 p.m.

    @ Red Headed Stranger

    "If you spent any time at all in "our" church, you would know how much they talk to the youth about secular and technical education."

    Talk is cheap. But educational performance is way down on the list (behind scouting, etc., etc., etc.) in Utah culture. That is why, despite its homogenous population and high "values" Utah's schools don't stack up nationally (see latest US News rankings for example).

  • 1aggie SALT LAKE CITY, UT
    April 28, 2013 9:11 p.m.

    Shouldn't we concentrate on first preparing our kids for college before dreaming about leading the nation in college graduates? Based upon the latest US News high school rankings, most Utah high school graduates are not prepared to attend a college math class.

  • Howard Beal Provo, UT
    April 28, 2013 8:05 p.m.


    Utah is dead last in per pupil spending. Mississippi left us in the dust years ago...

  • Red Headed Stranger Billy Bobs, TX
    April 28, 2013 7:54 p.m.


    Dollars spent per child is NOT the best indicator on scholastic achievement. Parental involvement is. No matter how much money you spend on a kid, if the parents don't care, the kid usually won't achieve.

    My parents (just tech school, one quarter at USU) made sure that we kids went to college. My mom spent hours filling out scholarship forms while I worked on my AP classes. You know what happened? All three boys got Bachelor's and one got a Master's. One sister also got a Bachelor's. If you spent any time at all in "our" church, you would know how much they talk to the youth about secular and technical education. So it isn't about the money. It is about the desire and emphasis.

    To be honest, it is attitudes like Yutahkidd's is why I don't live in Utah. I got more grief about being a Mormon while living in Salt Lake City for three months than I have for seven years in Texas.

  • I know it. I Live it. I Love it. Salt Lake City, UT
    April 28, 2013 7:19 p.m.


    The Lord's church is directed by Him, not by our abilities alone. As an organization, 'throwing money' at a problem never solves it. People solve problems. Missionaries equal manpower. Quorums equal manpower.

    Throwing a million at homelessness can pay the cost of building some homes. A ward could build a home and a stake could build many. We are just as able to 'live with all things common among us' as could those who Christ visited and taught in the Book of Mormon. With education it is no different. All money can buy is manpower, and the church would go bankrupt if it had to pay every bishop and missionary a salary, etc. Throwing money at issues is throwing money away.

    Parents equal a boat load of manpower. For every child, it took two parents to create. If every parent in the world lovingly taught righteous principles all problems would cease to exist. If parents simply helped to school their children more, then most education problems would cease or diminish dramatically.

    Governments, school administrators, and teachers = a few administering to many.

    Add parents to that list = many administering to many. It's a good plan.

  • Yutahkidd Grantsville, UT
    April 28, 2013 3:49 p.m.

    Unless "our" church kicks in revenue this is NEVER going to happen.
    The desire and dream to create "Zion" with an educated population, unreigned development and large family size where everyone believes in Jesus and walks around in blissful happiness can NOT occur without significant financial investment from the largest US Corporation. Heck, if I had tax exempt status I might buy a downtown building lot and hire workers in a private enterprise. Without LDS putting money upfront, Utah will always be just a desert dustbowl, a wanna be in the new world economy. Thank god for Mississippi or we would be dead last in per pupil spending for education. Puerto Rico will become a state before Utah develops the necessary education programs to reach 66

  • theDailyObserver Salt Lake City, Utah
    April 28, 2013 3:37 p.m.

    Good comment Anon374. I agree.

    Define irony: a governor with such an audacious goal concerning higher education, but one who did earn a college degree himself.

  • Anon374 ,
    April 28, 2013 3:17 p.m.

    A governor with a goal but a man with no plan.