Office of Education

Achieve60AZ Press Conference Opening Remarks - September 16, 2016

Good morning, everyone. Thanks so much for being here. 

I want to begin by saying thank you to Principal Lorenzo Cabrera and the amazing teachers, administrators and students of Franklin Police and Fire High School for hosting us today. It’s great to be back at Franklin! Lorenzo, the last time I was here, I told you that I thought Franklin was a model school of excellence for others to emulate. You exemplify the importance of having a strong K-12 pipeline as the bridge to economic prosperity in Arizona.

We begin with a strong foundation – excellent public schools and community colleges and universities that are some of the best in the nation. But, we must do more to help our students reach their full potential. And, we must do more to ensure that Arizona has a ready skilled workforce. So it’s an honor to be here at Franklin again to announce an initiative which I believe will make Arizona an even better place to LIVE, WORK, and DREAM BIG.

No goal is too ambitious as we strive to make Arizona the envy of every other state in the nation. But in order for us to get there, we have to tackle our challenges head-on, and take swift action. Make no mistake: success in a 21stCentury economy requires a 21stCentury skill set.

I’m proud to stand with these statewide leaders today to support the next big step in education reform – ACHIEVE60AZ.

This initiative will be a boon for the citizens in our state, ensuring that 60% of working age Arizonans will have a postsecondary degree, certificate or credential by the year 2030.

FACTONLY 42 percent of Arizona adults currently have a postsecondary degree or certificate.

FACT: In less than five years, NEARLY 70 percent of all jobs will require more than a high school diploma. 

FACT: If 60 percent of Arizonans aged 25-64 obtain a college degree or professional certificate, we could see an additional $3.5 billion added to our state’s economy. 

The message is clear: additional workforce training or education beyond a high school diploma is a MUST if we’re going to have a competitive workforce.We CAN do this. We MUST do this. We WILL do this. From the day I announced for governor, I pledged to my fellow Arizonans that I would do whatever it takes to provide OPPORTUNITY FOR ALL. Providing multiple pathways to a postsecondary education is going to require a commitment from EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US.  

We want our traditional students to dedicate themselves to their K-12 education, so that they can take full advantage of our OUTSTANDING community colleges and universities, and the career opportunities that await them. Nearly 26% of adult Arizonans have some college or career training experience, but no degree or certificate. We want to help and support these non-traditional students, who may be unemployed or underemployed, to complete their education. If they do, they will – WITHOUT QUESTION – see the economic benefits of higher wages and more career opportunities available to them. 

Many of our in-demand industries with skilled labor needs will also thrive if we can inspire these adult learners to return to complete their degree. Make no mistake: EDUCATION ADVANCES EVERYONE. Education improves the quality of life for citizens by increasing their income potential and, by extension, strengthening the communities in which they live, work and educate their own children. A better educated population is the cornerstone of a thriving workforce.

If we can ACHIEVE 60, our state will become an even stronger magnet for skilled labor and businesses looking for a better home. I proudly support the work of the Arizona Education Attainment Alliance. And it’s because of the collaborative work done by these 60 organizations and individuals, with leaders in business and education, that we have yet another reason to say that Arizona is ON THE RISE. My support is also indicative of how my administration, along with the ACHIEVE60AZ community, plans to institute the next step in education policy reform. We will focus on improving our K-12 system through stronger recruitment and retention of quality teachers. We will continue our campaign for early literacy and 3rd grade reading proficiency. We will also continue increasing STEM programs in our middle schools, with more emphasis on mathematics and computer science. And we’ll keep promoting more college preparatory, career and technical opportunities in our public schools.

Our administration will work with our institutions of higher education to relax barriers for anyone seeking a degree or career training. We will do whatever we can to assist families with “college knowing and going” programs. We will also create financial and career literacy opportunities, and get employment data in the hands of our students, so that they can link their academic goals with their career aspirations.

You’ll now hear from the other coalition leaders about how this movement evolved, and how ACHIEVE60AZ will merge a 21st Century workforce with a 21st Century skill set.