Duncan: Education Best Path to Better Economy

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that a post-secondary education remained the surest path to professional and economic success, even as more Americans than ever are going into debt to pursue higher learning.

Duncan said students should consider some form of higher education, including college or vocational training, if they want to more easily secure a job after high school graduation. Outside of mortgages, student loans are the top source of household debt.

“Going to college, by far, is the best long-term investment any individual can make for their future,” Duncan told reporters in North Las Vegas. “Some form of higher education has to be the goal of every single young person in this country.”

Duncan touted President Barack Obama’s student loan relief plan, which would reduce the maximum repayment on student loans from 15 percent of discretionary income annually to 10 percent, among other measures. About 1.6 million borrowers could be affected.

The Education Department has loaned $490 billion to 23 million borrowers this year, compared to $102.2 billion to 11.5 million recipients last year.

Duncan’s remarks came amid a nationwide tour to promote Obama’s American Jobs Act, which would set aside tax dollars for teacher salaries and school construction. In all, Duncan made two stops in southern Nevada, first addressing a federal student aid conference on the Las Vegas Strip, and later participating in an education panel at the College of Southern Nevada in North Las Vegas.

Duncan also addressed the nation’s wounded economy in this hardest-hit state, telling educators and students gathered at the College of Southern Nevada that investment in public schools is the only way to strengthen the nation’s work force and compete globally. Nevada tops the nation in foreclosures and unemployment and has some of the most underfunded public schools in the nation. (Read more.)

Via Cristina Silva, Associated Press on Community College Week.

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Community Colleges and Regional Recovery: Strategies for State Action

Governors and other state leaders are under pressure to increase the odds that their states will exit the recession poised to be productive, attractive to employers, and competitive for jobs and wealth creation. One fact is inescapable: to achieve economic recovery and longer-run prosperity, states must produce many more skilled workers with postsecondary credentials, not merely short-term training after high school.

The current economic climate has placed renewed priority on the performance and potential of community colleges, the primary postsecondary institution serving local and regional workforce needs. These institutions are critically important to individuals seeking higher skills and to employers looking for qualified workers. States that fail to align their community college goals with economic development efforts to address their human capital challenges run the risk of losing out in the competition for good jobs and sustain­able development. Read more >>

Via Richard Kazis, Vice President, Jobs for the Future, The Brookings Institution
Download the full paper by clicking here

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