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Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter revealed both a global viewpoint and personal insight into education during a broad-ranging discussion with community business and education leaders on campus Thursday.
In a meeting at the Lodge that included UCCS, Pikes Peak Community College and local Chamber of Commerce representatives, Ritter cited statistics that the U.S. is falling behind other countries in the number of college graduates and pledged to “cut in half” the drop-out rate among Coloradoans who fail to complete high school.
“Today Colorado, ranks 49th in the nation in higher-education funding,” Ritter said. “While we currently have a very educated state, one out of every five high school freshmen will drop out. We must invest more in higher education for our children to be competitive in a global economy.”
But Ritter moved beyond statistics. As one of 12 children, he said he was privileged to have attended high-quality, reasonably priced public universities while recognizing that not everyone wants to go to college. Ritter holds a bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University and a law degree from CU.
“I have one brother who is a diesel mechanic,” Ritter said. “We need good diesel mechanics. I have another brother who took a long time to complete his degree at Metro State while he worked. There’s no exact formula for everyone to follow.”
Ritter cited many of the proposals developed by a P-20 task force as positive for Colorado’s future. Those recommendations range from full-day kindergarten classes to more high school counselors. He also shared a recent visit to a California high-tech firm where 70 percent of engineers were foreign-born and asked for ideas to encourage youth to pursue careers in science and math.
Carole Schoffstall, dean, Beth-El College of Nursing, and Jackie Berning, associate professor and chair, Department of Biology, emphasized the need for high-quality facilities and the role that faculty play in helping students achieve their potential.
The chord was emphasized by Rosaura Padilla and her brother, Roberto, UCCS students from Manzanola. Rosaura Padilla told Ritter than mentorship and funding are needed to get kids excited about education, particularly in the health sciences fields.
Governor Bill Ritter explains his administration's education initiatives
during a Thursday meeting of community and education leaders at the Lodge.