GETTING TO THE GOAL: EDUCATE
To meet the ambitious levels projected in this Master Plan, current systems of educational delivery and workforce preparation must change. Reaching the goal of 60% attainment and building a brighter future for the state and its people requires us to accelerate talent development aggressively through identification of new pathways, leaving incremental change behind. In short, we must embrace solutions at the scale of the problem.
Focus on Investment and Affordability
Postsecondary education is fundamentally an investment with extensive long-term benefits to the individuals and communities, not an expenditure without return. Strategic funding, with resources carefully aligned to well-defined priorities, benchmarks, and outcomes, is the bedrock of success for the whole endeavor. When the costs of access to and success in higher education are borne by the student, many citizens, particularly those populations we most need to reach, find higher education credentials – and the related benefits, from increasing personal opportunity, to building workforce-relevant skills, to growing more affluent communities – are impossible for them. Though over the last decade Louisiana’s postsecondary education system has sustained the second-highest disinvestment by the public sector in the country, it is clear that, moving forward, stakeholders across all sectors must work collectively to support strategic investments, establish an innovative funding model, and remove some of the burden from the students.
Only by reinvestment from all sources can we create a postsecondary structure that is focused on providing all Louisianians with a chance to succeed in college, boost their earning potential, live better lives, and be the backbone of a high-tech, 21st-century economy. Failure to invest will come at a significant cost, further entrenching existing inequities and placing students at an impossible crossroads: work to live in the present or pursue a better future. And the cost will not just be to students; private employers will continue to struggle to find enough qualified workers, the state will continue to operate at a disadvantage in recruiting new business and diversifying our economy, and we will continue to see ourselves in the bottom tier of the states in opportunity and quality of life. We have been near the bottom for too long, and have too much to offer; we deserve to maximize our talent to rank where we belong.