Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
For many high school and college students across our state, graduation day is approaching.
One of the most rewarding parts of my job as Governor is the opportunity I've had to talk with students of all ages. The discussions I've had with high school and college students have shown me that we have outstanding young people in our state.
I've visited with students who achieved top scores on their ACT or SAT exams, students who have represented our state at national and international events, and those who have given back to their communities as a volunteer. Whether it is our young people who have worked hard and excelled in the classroom, in arts, athletics or other activities, I am confident that Nebraska's future is in good hands.
Parents deserve a special thank you for all they do for their sons and daughters. They are their children's first and best teachers. Parental involvement in education is key to their child's long-term success. I also want to acknowledge the great work of our teachers, professors, administrators, support staff, mentors and all those who are part of the education of today's students.
My wife, Sally spent her entire professional career in classrooms and schools as an elementary school teacher and principal. Education was always an important part of our family and that experience has given me the opportunity to see firsthand what an outstanding job our educators do.
Graduating from high school is an important milestone. Today's jobs require higher reading and math skills than was true 20 years ago. One of the most valuable tools that we can give to today's students is the opportunity to earn a two-year associate's degree or a four-year college degree. If we want to keep Nebraska's economy strong, we need to encourage high school and middle school students to pursue a higher education. A college degree is now recognized as the best path toward a good job and the middle class.
Nebraska students and families are fortunate that our state has made the accessibility of an affordable, quality education a priority. Nebraskans have many outstanding colleges and universities to attend.
Recently, I announced that Nebraska is ranked seventh in the nation in the percentage of high school graduates who go on to college. Our college-going rate has improved to 69.5 percent. While we can be proud of our Top 10 ranking, there is still room to improve and we will need even more college-educated workers in Nebraska to meet the workforce demands of the near future.
The Department of Education recently announced Nebraska's statewide graduation rate has improved from 87.6 percent to 88.5 percent. That's great news. Nebraska has one of the best high school graduation rates in the country. Our goal is 90 percent.
I want to congratulate our school districts for the increased focus that they put on graduating their students from high school and I want to thank our schools and parents for their increased emphasis on academic achievement.
I am very proud of the young people in our state and I want to congratulate the many high school and college graduates who will receive their diplomas this month. My hope is that graduation will be a special day for each of them and a special day for the parents, siblings, friends and others who will gather to celebrate their accomplishments.