Signaling a continued effort of collaboration between education governing bodies, the Alaska State Board of Education & Early Development and the University of Alaska Board of Regents will hold a joint meeting Sept. 14 in Juneau to lay out a strategy for how the two education systems (PK-12 and postsecondary) can work together to strengthen Alaska’s educational performance.
“Aligning our two organizations will start us down the path toward creating a robust culture of education in Alaska,” said University of Alaska President Jim Johnsen. “We know that by 2025, Alaska will demand that 65 percent of its workforce have some postsecondary education. Right now, we stand at 37 percent, so we have a way to go.”
Typically, Johnsen said, of 100 average Alaska 9th-grade students, 29 won’t graduate from high school, 40 won’t attend college, 16 will select out-of-state universities and only 10 will attend the University of Alaska. However, of those 10 who attend UA, only five will graduate, and it will take them an average 10 years to do so.
“This trend needs to be reversed,” Johnsen said. “We need to make known the urgency of attending college not only among our PK-12 students and parents, but also among adults who want to continue or complete their education. Our state needs a trained workforce—more teachers, more engineers, more business owners, more innovators—and that is the imperative.”
The two boards will hear from Education Commissioner Michael Johnson and UA President Jim Johnsen on the data that illustrate the pressing need to create a healthier college-going population. “Our goal is to achieve a common understanding of our challenges, share our mutual initiatives, agree on a roadmap for pursuing next steps and work together on progress,” Johnsen said.
Next steps include a discussion with Gov. Bill Walker; the formation of a joint working group; ongoing public engagement with communities, school boards and legislators; establishing options for greater alignment and holding an education summit later this year.
The joint meeting will take place at the University of Alaska Southeast Recreation Center, Room 116, from 2–4 p.m., with future meetings and public engagements planned through the end of the year.