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SALT LAKE CITY — Both chambers of the Utah Legislature have now passed a version of a resolution expressing support for a goal to have two-thirds of the state's adults holding a post-secondary degree or certificate by the year 2020.
SCR5, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Stevenson, R-Layton, was substituted in the House by House sponsor Bradley Last, R-Hurricane, to include the goal that 90 percent of students score proficiently in reading by the end of the third grade. The substitute also changes the title of the resolution to more clearly reflect the state's intent to have 66 percent of Utah's adults educated beyond high school by the year 2020.
Roughly 43 percent of adults in Utah currently hold a post-secondary degree or certificate.
"This is a vision statement, that’s really all that it is," Last said. "It indicates that we all want to get together and pull together and get two-thirds of our adults educated so they can be well-employed by 2020."
The "66 by 2020" goal has been a key component of Gov. Gary Herbert's educational initiatives and stems from the Governor's Education Excellence Commission and the Prosperity 2020 initiative, a public-private partnership focused on increasing educational outcomes in Utah. It has been embraced by both public and higher education as well as the various education stakeholders in the state.
A version of the resolution passed unanimously out of the Senate, but the substitution by Last received three votes in opposition in the House.
Rep. Jim Nielson, R-Bountiful, described the resolution as an instance of "watch what I say, not what I do." He said the idea of educating Utah's adults is a nice one, but the resolution does little in the form of quantifiable action toward that goal.
"Let's be serious and do things," Nielson said. "Not saying we're going to do things, but just do them."
But Last said the resolution was important to establish a long-term vision that lawmakers and educators could work toward in partnership.
"I think all of us have heard the statement that you need to begin with the end in mind," he said. "That’s what this is about."