Education is key to Inland Empire prosperity
Education is one of the keys to sustained, long-term economic progress and prosperity in the Inland Empire. […] A June report from the Public Policy Institute of California noted that growing the number of college graduates in the Inland Empire will be essential for statewide economic well-being. Arguing that current college graduation rates are insufficient to provide the number of educated workers needed by 2030, researchers noted that while the Inland Empire awards 14 percent of high school diplomas in the state, it only produces 6 percent of the state’s bachelor’s degrees.
Not enough Inland graduates are going to college, for a variety of reasons. One problem is that high school graduates in the region are less likely to have completed and passed the A-G required courses which make them eligible for admission to Cal State universities or the University of California system. In 2016, only 44.3 percent of graduates in Riverside County and 37.6 in San Bernardino County graduated eligible for CSU/UC admission.
But even many who do graduate eligible for admission to state colleges simply aren’t applying or going to college, or they drop out at some point along the way. Ann Marie Allen, senior director of the Growing Inland Achievement initiative, is studying why that is in an effort to improve outcomes in the region. While research is ongoing, Allen argues the region has to undergo a cultural shift to encourage more students to go to college.
“Many of our families don’t believe college is available and affordable,” she said, noting the relatively low cost of local colleges. To improve this, Allen stresses the importance of getting the business community involved in partnerships, like the Riverside County Education Collaborative, that work to increase college attendance.
Content from a Press-Enterprise Opinion written by Sal Rodriguez and Brian Calle published September 22, 2017