Utah Students, Business Leaders and PTA join forces
Salt Lake City – Today more than 200 students and business leaders came together with a unified voice on the steps of the Utah State Capitol. The group called on elected officials to invest and innovate to improve Utah’s educational performance and our economy.
By 2020, 66 percent of Utah’s workforce will need trade certificates or degrees for Utah’s economy to thrive.
David Smith, Student Representative for Education First and University of Utah student said, “We are here today representing the 32,000 college students from across this state who have signed the Education First pledge – a call for public policy leaders to put our economy first by putting education first.”
Several prominent business leaders joined students, including Mark Bouchard, Prosperity 2020 Chairman. “This is an organized movement. Utah’s students and business community share a vision, the vision to build enduring prosperity and the best economy in the nation by improving education,” said Bouchard. “Prosperity 2020 is the largest coalition of business executives and associations that has ever united around one clear goal for education. As business leaders, we feel the urgency to improve Utah’s educational results.”
Ogden business leader and Education First Co-Chair Nolan Karras was also in attendance. “Businesses in Utah want to hire the sixty-six percent. We need them in the workforce. I am honored to stand with these motivated and bright young people today. The business community will participate in every aspect of public policy to persuade elected officials that education is the path to enduring prosperity. We are working with legislators, attending Republican and Democrat caucus meetings and political conventions. We will help elected officials who help public schools and colleges and universities.”
Neela Pack, University of Utah Student Body President, led the charge on behalf of students. “We are the sixty-six percent. We want great jobs. We want to invent things, provide medical care and find solutions to today’s problems. Some of us want to make movies and some of us would like to be on Capitol Hill some day. We need quality educational opportunities to make these things happen.”
Pack continued, “The students here today have told you the challenges we face, like enrollment caps. Enrollment hasn’t been funded since 2002. Tuition costs have exploded and student loan debt is off the charts. We came here today to call for leadership and action to make education the state’s first priority. We are communicating our priorities to legislators today. We will do our part if the state does its part by giving us access to higher education.”
Also in attendance were members of the Utah PTA. Vice President of Legislative Affairs, Dawn Davies said, “I represent PTA members from all over Utah when I say that we must do better by Utah schools. We embrace the Prosperity 2020 and Education First goals to improve education. The 66 percent are our children and grandchildren. They are Utah’s future. Investing in schools will create a path to enduring prosperity – not just great jobs, but great families and communities.”
To find out more about Education First, visit www.educationfirstutah.org.