Governor's weekly radio address

Educating students for 21st century jobs is critical

By Gov. Paul LePage | Nov 19, 2011

The following is text from the governor's Nov. 19, 2011, radio address. To listen, click the MP3 link below.

"Hello. This is your Governor, Paul LePage.

This week, former Governor McKernan and I joined with the Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges to announce $11.3 million dollars in private support for our state’s seven community colleges.

This incredible generosity from Maine’s business community, local and national philanthropies, and private individuals is commendable. And what many of these donors will tell you is that it is not a donation, rather it is an investment into the future of Maine.

I couldn’t agree more.

This $11.3 million dollar contribution is part of a campaign that supports efforts by the colleges to expand enrollment from 18,500 to 25,000 students by 2018.

Maine’s community colleges are a critical component to preparing our students for the jobs we have available in our state which will help revitalize our economy.

I would like to see, and we are working on it, our community college system better connected with the vocational and technical schools in our high schools. Vocational schools offer a wide range of trade skills, including nursing, welding, plumbing, web design and automotive, all of which have a direct link to our community colleges.  Unfortunately, community colleges are not attracting the students who attend vocational centers in high school. In fact, few high school students with vocational experience move on to a community college.

Maine’s community colleges focus on practical trades and offer an alternative to paying for four years of college. It’s clear, that a formal education of some kind is necessary for real career success. Because of the flexibility of shorter programs, a career can be within reach much sooner with training from a community college.

In addition to saving time, students will save money choosing a community college.  Students experience much lower fees than a traditional college to the tune of $2,500 per year compared to $6,500 to $8,000 dollars in the University system.

As the state works toward getting our fiscal house in order we must ask ourselves to prioritize. Education is a high priority in this administration and it is important for, both, the community college and university system, to have support.

The previous administration, in 3 years, cut higher education funding by $7 million dollars. My budget stopped that decline.

This brings us back to the $11.3 million dollars.

Because the state doesn’t have unlimited resources, we must recognize the commitment from our business leaders and individuals who have offered financial support to our education system.

My agenda for the upcoming session consists of three things – energy, education and the economy. For Maine to prosper we must address our energy and education issues.

Some say, that I’m only interested in keeping our older generation here, however, while I think it is important to keep our seniors in state, it is just as important for our younger people to want to call Maine home.

And as the Thanksgiving holiday approaches and families gather together, I hope you’ll take the opportunity to talk to your children about everything Maine has to offer.

Encourage them to seek out the various opportunities our education institutions provide.

We don’t want our kids to look elsewhere to live and work – we need them here to help build our workforce and contribute, not only from an economic standpoint, but from a social one too.

I thank you for listening and Ann and I hope you have a most enjoyable holiday."

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