Thanks to these partners for their continued involvement in our community and education.
Panhandle needs gradsBy Brenda Bernet
An auto mechanic needs a computer just as much as a wrench to repair a vehicle.
"Today's vehicles, all of them, have more computers than Apollo 13," Joe Street of Street Toyota said during Monday night's kickoff of a new Celebrate Education program at the Globe-News Center for the Performing Arts.
Technicians need expertise in working with the technology of a 10-year-old truck, as well as the high-tech features of 2008 models, Street said. That knowledge demands that they have at least a two-year associate's degree.
Through Celebrate Education, the Amarillo Globe-News and its partners aim to bring awareness to the need for higher levels of educational attainment, Publisher Les Simpson said. The new program follows results of a study Panhandle Twenty/20 released in September on the low levels of educational attainment.
The study showed that too few Panhandle residents graduate from high school and go on to receive technical training or college degrees, Simpson said. If trends continue, the Panhandle will have a less-educated population and a less-skilled workforce, which will lead to a decline in wages and employment.
Nearly every employer in the Panhandle depends on workers with a higher level of training, Simpson said.
"At the beginning, everybody said, 'What are you going to do?'" said Anette Carlisle, study coordinator for Panhandle Twenty/20 and a trustee for Amarillo Independent School District. "We're not going to fix it in a year ... We can create success for more people in our community. Business as usual isn't going to change things."
Today, high school drop-outs face a lifetime of challenges, said Rod Schroder, superintendent for Amarillo ISD. They are much more likely to go to prison and to rely on governmental assistance. In the future, a person with a high school diploma could face similar challenges.
"The future will demand a more highly trained and educated workforce," he said.
The Celebrate Education program will include a number of special features in the newspaper, as well as events throughout the community to emphasize the importance of education and help residents find the resources they need, Simpson said.
Many resources and opportunities exist for students to continue their education beyond high school, but people need to know how to access them and the steps they should take to fulfill their dreams, said Mike Cook, director of the Ronald McNair Scholars Program at West Texas A&M University that helps first- generation college students pursue graduate degrees.
"The more you know helps students to make good decisions and know the opportunities that are out there for them," Cook said. "Things just don't happen."
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