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President's Comments

UA President Patrick Gamble. Photo by Todd Paris.

Higher Education and Career Readiness Advisory Task Force

I recently returned from two days of meetings in Anchorage focused on state education, and wanted to share with you how that went.

Senate Bill 221 created the Higher Education and Career Readiness Advisory Task Force, which consists of 20 members from state government, the legislature and a broad spectrum of Alaska education and education support system leadership. The group represents the state’s urban and rural regions and will look at grade school through college.

In a series of meetings, the group will examine the growing need for remedial coursework upon entrance to college or workforce training. The goal is to draft a set of recommendations that can improve retention and graduation rates at colleges, universities and postsecondary vocational or technical training programs in the state.

The first session, held July 22 and 23, concentrated mainly on expressing the current state of play and highlighting successes as well as problem areas. Much talk centered on education as a continuum that runs into coherence trouble when any part of it becomes broken or dysfunctional. Discussion about the impact of overall U.S. and Alaska social cultures on student ways of learning proved to be very interesting and certainly relevant to future outcome recommendations.

It was clear to all members that we have our work cut out for us. Recommendations will probably develop as a complex solution set, rather than promoted as a single unified recommendation.  Funding will, of course, be a central issue.

I’ll keep you posted as the task force’s work continues.

Pat Gamble

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