Reed praises SW La. for focus on higher education

Louisiana Higher Education Commissioner Kim Hunter Reed said she plans to use the Southwest Louisiana region as a blueprint to help other areas achieve success in higher education and economic growth.

Reed, a Lake Charles native, made the remarks during a stakeholder engagement breakfast on Monday at the SEED Center that included educators from McNeese State University, Sowela Technical Community College and others. She said the state needs a “strategic focus on the redefinition of higher education,” and high school students should be encouraged to pursue any and all pathways toward a degree.

“Education is community building at its best,” Reed said.

According to a national study, 11.5 million out of the 11.6 million jobs created after the recession required more than a high school diploma, Reed said.

“The high school diploma is now the floor, not the ceiling, (for success),” she said.

Reed also called for a “blurring of the lines” between K-12 education and college/ career training and said the model of them working independently is outdated. She said Tennessee and Colorado have successful programs that allow high school students to work salaried jobs, providing them with a more “apprentice style” education.

When asked if high school students are mature enough for the workforce, Reed said successful apprentices have teachers and mentors who explicitly teach best practices for professionalism and do not “just expect them to do it.”

A McNeese professor mentioned teachers who lack expertise in science, technology, engineering and math courses, yet are tasked with preparing students for STEM topics on the college level. Reed said she doesn’t “have a magic solution,” but supports teacher pay raises and incentives for them to pursue continuing education courses.

 
 

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Kim Hunter Reed, Ph.D., was unanimously selected as the ninth Commissioner of Higher Education by the Louisiana Board of Regents in April 2018.

Special to the American Press

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