Utah commission goal: College for 2 of 3 by 2020

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Utah Gov. Gary Herbert's education excellence commission set a goal Tuesday of ensuring that two-thirds of adults older than 25 have a college degree or post-secondary certificate by 2020.

The goal was set to match a Georgetown University study that says two of every three jobs in Utah will require a post-secondary degree or certificate within the next decade.

Getting there won't be cheap, though.

Among other things, the commission calls for higher teacher salaries, restoring optional all-day kindergarten and hiring more counselors.

Facing a special election in November, Herbert has frequently cited the commission's work as what will serve as the basis for his education plan. Herbert's Democratic opponent, Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon, has criticized Herbert for not offering an education plan of his own and said the state needs a 10-year plan.

Herbert serves as chairman of the commission, but said Tuesday he hasn't committed to following all of its recommendations.

Education funding has long been a challenge in Utah. Utah spends less per student than any other state and has the nation's largest class sizes, primarily because it has the nation's biggest families.

Education officials have recently tried to reframe the education funding debate by saying the lack of spending just means that Utah is more efficient than other states.

State Superintendent Larry Shumway says about 35 percent of Utah residents already have a college degree, while another 10 or 15 percent have a certificate. Salt Lake Chamber CEO and commission member Lane Beattie said the definition of what qualifies as a post-secondary certificate may need to be a broad one, such as being certified by an employer in a computer program.

To reach the goal, the commission recommends addressing five broad categories: bolstering early childhood education, using technology, improving instructional quality, strengthening higher education and aligning education with economic development.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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Brock Vergakis Writer


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