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Indiana panel sets new college degree goals

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A plan to increase the number of college degrees in Indiana won unanimous approval Wednesday from the Indiana Education Roundtable, but members acknowledged it won't be an easy task.

The "Reaching Higher, Achieving More" resolution looks to increase on-time graduation rates at both two- and four-year campuses and double the number of college graduates produced in the state by 2025. The plan also aims to have 60 percent of Indiana adults with college degrees by 2025.

Gov. Mitch Daniels acknowledged that achieving that goal would be "a real stretch" but said it was an attainable number, even though Indiana has struggled in recent years to improve its post-secondary graduation rate. Only about a third of Indiana adults currently hold post-secondary diplomas, ranking the state 40th in the nation, according to the Lumina Foundation.

The stakes are high. The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts more than half of the jobs that will be available in the state by 2018 will require a college degree.

The new plan addresses concerns that too few students complete their degrees on time. Just 28 percent of those attending four-year public schools and 4 percent of those at two-year public institutions graduate on time.

The state will now limit academic programs to 120 credits for bachelor's degrees and 60 credits for an associate program to help students complete their degrees sooner. Those limits were part of legislation Gov. Mitch Daniels signed into law earlier this month.

Schools will be encouraged to improve their remedial education programs, must set annual goals to reduce student debt loads and will be required to provide public information on job placement rates for degree programs.

Larry Isaak, president of the Midwestern Higher Education Compact, which promotes educational access in 12 Midwestern states, praised the state's goal of having 60 percent of adults with college degrees. But he said Indiana needs to work on expanding its base of college-ready students and getting them started sooner after graduation.

Indiana University President Michael McRobbie said he supported the education panel's goals but would need more funding from the Legislature, which has continued to shrink its allocation to universities.

"There's a limit to how much we can provide a product of the same quality with reduced resources," McRobbie said.

The roundtable, which includes Daniels, top state education officials, lawmakers and representatives from schools, universities and other groups, proposed the "Reaching Higher, Achieving More" as the successor to a 2008 strategic initiative called "Reaching Higher." That plan aimed to improve graduation rates, expand the role of community colleges in the state and better prepare students at the outset of post-secondary education.

The 2008 plan noted that 54.7 percent of Indiana students at four-year colleges graduated within six years of enrollment, just below the national average, and set a goal of being one of the top five states in this metric by 2012.

Instead, Indiana's rate has declined to 53 percent.

Indiana Commissioner of Higher Education Teresa Lubbers said Indiana's graduation rates have been especially low in recent years because few students are taking the more traditional, four-year residential college path. Instead, more students are taking fewer courses over a longer period to manage costs. Many are often balancing jobs as well.

Currently, 40 percent of Indiana college students are 25 or older and 59 percent attend school part-time, according to the roundtable.

"The non-traditional student has become the majority, and we need to acknowledge that," Lubbers said.

Lubbers acknowledged that the number of Indiana adults with college degrees hasn't budged much in four decades.

"We know it's tough," she said.

But she and Daniels remained optimistic that the state will meet its goals.

"We'll get there," Daniels said.

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  • Wrong way
    What this state and our entire nation needs are legislatures which will push businesses back into educating their employees.

    Many jobs that require college degrees to win the job don't require college degrees to do the job. This is an absurd situation; one where a college degree is being used as proxy for intelligence and personality on the part of the employer.

    I'd like to see tax incentives (carrot AND stick) toward businesses hiring and training out of high school for jobs they normally require associates or bachelors for.

    I'd like to see state funded (as well as private, non-profit) institutes of various sorts to absorb some of the excess of Ph.D. recipients, and also to function as apprenticing organizations for those without Ph.D.s.

    End the credential chauvinism that came about thanks to the G.I. bill and unnecessary elitism on the part of academia. Let's recover some of the good parts of the former social order, where merit meant more than title.

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  1. Cramer agrees...says don't buy it and sell it if you own it! Their "pay to play" cost is this issue. As long as they charge customers, they never will attain the critical mass needed to be a successful on company...Jim Cramer quote.

  2. My responses to some of the comments would include the following: 1. Our offer which included the forgiveness of debt (this is an immediate forgiveness and is not "spread over many years")represents debt that due to a reduction of interest rates in the economy arguably represents consideration together with the cash component of our offer that exceeds the $2.1 million apparently offered by another party. 2. The previous $2.1 million cash offer that was turned down by the CRC would have netted the CRC substantially less than $2.1 million. As a result even in hindsight the CRC was wise in turning down that offer. 3. With regard to "concerned Carmelite's" discussion of the previous financing Pedcor gave up $16.5 million in City debt in addition to the conveyance of the garage (appraised at $13 million)in exchange for the $22.5 million cash and debt obligations. The local media never discussed the $16.5 million in debt that we gave up which would show that we gave $29.5 million in value for the $23.5 million. 4.Pedcor would have been much happier if Brian was still operating his Deli and only made this offer as we believe that we can redevelop the building into something that will be better for the City and City Center where both Pedcor the citizens of Carmel have a large investment. Bruce Cordingley, President, Pedcor

  3. I've been looking for news on Corner Bakery, too, but there doesn't seem to be any info out there. I prefer them over Panera and Paradise so can't wait to see where they'll be!

  4. WGN actually is two channels: 1. WGN Chicago, seen only in Chicago (and parts of Canada) - this station is one of the flagship CW affiliates. 2. WGN America - a nationwide cable channel that doesn't carry any CW programming, and doesn't have local affiliates. (In addition, as WGN is owned by Tribune, just like WTTV, WTTK, and WXIN, I can't imagine they would do anything to help WISH.) In Indianapolis, CW programming is already seen on WTTV 4 and WTTK 29, and when CBS takes over those stations' main channels, the CW will move to a sub channel, such as 4.2 or 4.3 and 29.2 or 29.3. TBS is only a cable channel these days and does not affiliate with local stations. WISH could move the MyNetwork affiliation from WNDY 23 to WISH 8, but I am beginning to think they may prefer to put together their own lineup of syndicated programming instead. While much of it would be "reruns" from broadcast or cable, that's pretty much what the MyNetwork does these days anyway. So since WISH has the choice, they may want to customize their lineup by choosing programs that they feel will garner better ratings in this market.

  5. The Pedcor debt is from the CRC paying ~$23M for the Pedcor's parking garage at City Center that is apprased at $13M. Why did we pay over the top money for a private businesses parking? What did we get out of it? Pedcor got free parking for their apartment and business tenants. Pedcor now gets another building for free that taxpayers have ~$3M tied up in. This is NOT a win win for taxpayers. It is just a win for Pedcor who contributes heavily to the Friends of Jim Brainard. The campaign reports are on the Hamilton County website. http://www2.hamiltoncounty.in.gov/publicdocs/Campaign%20Finance%20Images/defaultfiles.asp?ARG1=Campaign Finance Images&ARG2=/Brainard, Jim

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