Committee advances proposal to set higher education attainment goal for Nebraska

Postsecondary education for Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Over the last few years, about 45 states across the country have set higher education attainment goals.

“Our neighboring states, as I mentioned, have a goal,” said Mike Baumgartner, executive director of the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education. “Iowa’s is 70%, South Dakota’s is 65%, I believe Kansas’ is 60%. So we want to put ourselves up there at the top. Nebraskans don’t want to settle for second-best, and they shouldn’t for educational attainment either.”

Currently, 58% of Nebraskans ages 25 to 34 have a higher education, but on Wednesday, the Legislature’s Education Committee advanced a resolution to set a goal to raise that number.

Senators want it to be 70% within the next eight years.

“States with higher educational attainment have a higher gross domestic product, they have higher per capita income, they have better health outcomes, higher voting rates, more community participation,” Baumgartner said. “So there is a plethora of benefits that come from additional education.”

Sen. Lynne Walz, chair of the Education Committee, said, “Adding more education or gaining more knowledge about what you want to go into only helps you be the best that you can be.”

It’s no secret that Nebraska students have fallen behind in math and reading.  Baumgartner hopes that new bills and state funding will help address the learning gaps.

“We have many people in the Legislature, and in the colleges, universities and, of course, the schools who are dedicated to that,” Baumgartner said. “So identifying those and looking where we are going with our testing system, seeing where we have gaps and putting the money behind that and the resources behind it.”

This legislative resolution was introduced late in the session, but Walz feels like it still has a chance to make it to debate this session.

“I think it will make it to the floor,” she said. “It’s an LR. It’s nothing that’s real controversial, and we have a lot of obvious stakeholders behind this legislative resolution. So it’s important for Nebraska, it’s a great attainment goal, to educate our kids and make sure that they are going on to postsecondary education after high school. I think it’s something that we will push very hard to get on the floor.”

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