Dear Fellow Nebraskans:
It's "back to school" time. Whether you are an educator, parent of a school age child or a student yourself, you are keenly aware that summer vacation is about to come to an end.
We have made it a priority to invest in Nebraska's young people by strengthening Nebraska's education system and growing educational opportunities. Educating the students of today for the jobs of tomorrow is critical to Nebraska's continued success.
Today, students need a quality high school education, and they need a good college education. A two year associate's degree or four-year college degree is more important than ever before. The world is changing, and we need to make sure that we are preparing our young people to compete in a knowledge-based, technology-driven, global free-market economy.
Regarding K-12 education, the State of Nebraska now has statewide assessments for reading, math, science and writing so we compare school districts, and help them do better in the future. I believe that we should be sharing best practices among schools just as businesses do all the time. Our focus is on academic achievement and academic improvement.
Scores are improving. Nebraska's statewide graduation rate has improved from 87.6 percent to 88.5 percent. We have the second best high school graduation rate in America. Our P-16 Initiative (preschool through college) goal is for every high school in Nebraska to achieve a 90 percent high school graduation rate.
We are witnessing a greater focus on academic achievement and academic improvement than we ever have had before and that's good news. We've strengthened high school graduation requirements and now every student in Nebraska is required to take four years of English and three years of math, science and social studies.
I want to encourage parents to be involved in your children's education. When parents are involved, decades of studies have shown over and over again that children achieve higher grades, and higher test scores. Graduation rates increase. There's better school attendance, increased motivation and self-esteem and even decreased use of drugs, alcohol and destructive behavior.
Nebraska is now a top ten college going state and we are focused on affordable access to college and improving college graduation rates. I'm proud of where Nebraska is, but we have more work to do in the future. It's essential that we eliminate the academic achievement gaps that exist in our state for our future workforce.
Education is a priority for me and it is an investment that will pay dividends for individuals, families and communities across our state. Our goal is to make Nebraska an even better place in the future to live, to work and to raise a family.