Higher-Ed Woes in Washington Tied To State 'Leadership Vacuum'

Ann McClure's picture
Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Washington politicians have abdicated their leadership role in higher education, leaving the state with a disjointed system that doesn't produce enough bachelor's degrees and forces employers to go out of state — and even out of the country — to find skilled workers.

That's the conclusion of a report from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, which noted that only 40 of every 100 Washington students who start ninth grade will enter college on time. The authors say state leaders should set "clear goals and an ambitious agenda" to increase the number of students earning bachelor's degrees.

Much of the report's conclusions are not news to state policy leaders, who have been concerned for some time about the weak output of college degrees, especially in high-demand fields such as computer science and engineering. But this report puts the blame largely on state leadership — especially Gov. Chris Gregoire, but also state legislators — for what the authors call a "policy leadership vacuum."

Read more »