NWC News Desk

The future of education to be discussed at May 12 forum

Posted May 4, 2011

POWELL, Wyo. - The Northwest College Board of Trustees invites anyone who’s interested in the future of education in Wyoming to attend a 7 p.m. public forum Thursday, May 12, in the Nelson Performing Arts Center Auditorium on the NWC campus in Powell.

The forum will localize the “big bold goals” and associated data discussed at the April 15 Community College Summit in San Diego, Calif. The purpose of the April gathering (one of four regional summits) was to help accomplish President Obama’s goal of reaching a 150 percent post-secondary educational degree completion level by 2020.

It’s estimated that over 62 percent of jobs in 2020 will require such a degree completion.

NWC Trustee Rick LaPlante was one of eight Wyoming representatives who joined community college and post-secondary education leaders from across the country to address the role of community colleges in meeting the president’s challenge.

Some of the topics that will be discussed at the May 12 forum in Powell include:

  • details about the 50 percent minimum increase in college-degreed workers that will be needed by 2020
  • the growing importance of a college degree in earning a “living wage”
  • the anticipated costs and negative impacts of workers without college degrees to cities, counties and states operating in a changing global economy
  • how current college systems inadvertently hinder degree completion
  • how to improve the “pipeline” of higher education without leaving behind students who need the most help
  • the  opportunities possible in Wyoming through a united K-16 vision for 2020 and beyond

According to LaPlante, the May 12 forum is just the beginning of a watershed movement in Wyoming and Northwest College’s educational system.

“We believe so strongly in the need for a fresh look at the systemic strengths and weaknesses inherent in our current model,” LaPlante said, “we will be hosting a one-day summit in fall 2011 with all NWC’s internal and external partners to follow up on the issues examined during this forum.”

In a letter of invitation to hundreds of legislators, individuals in Big Horn Basin public school systems, city and county governments and others, the NWC Board of Trustees reminded readers that 2020 isn’t far away. The students who graduate from high school in 2020 are already in third grade. If Wyoming wants to influence them toward completing college degrees in order to earn a “living wage,” the time to start is now.

Also serving on the NWC Board of Trustees are President Mark Westerhold, John Housel and Marty Coe of Cody; Carolyn Danko, Gloria Hedderman of Powell and Jim Sessions of Meeteetse.