Tag Archives: Communiversity @ Surprise

classroom-update

Experts say quality education equals quality jobs for Arizona

The formula is simple: W = $. A well-qualified, educated workforce equals high-paying, deeply entrenched Arizona jobs and statewide economic growth.

“There are too many buzzwords and not enough solutions,” muses Rick Heumann, Chandler’s vice-mayor and a passionate education advocate. “If we don’t do something now, we’re going to lose an entire generation. The legislature cannot continue to starve schools and colleges and expect the economy to grow. Incentives will not overcome lack of qualified workforce.”

Heumann, and other business leaders also say that the solutions are more than just funding. It’s a challenge through the whole system to create opportunities and relevance for today’s students to become tomorrow’s well-qualified workforce.

“Arizona education has to produce the talent needed to find a job and fill the gaps in the workplace,” says Steve Zylstra, president and CEO of the Arizona Technology Council. “We need to create more robust opportunities to inform students about career opportunities and the need for education.”

The Arizona business community is finding opportunities and step-by-step trying to bring change to the state’s education system. This is a marked contrast from political attacks on Common Core that one business leader confided are demonstrations that the legislature just doesn’t understand education or economic development.”

“There’s too much rote and not enough reason,” sighs Joan Koerber-Walker, president and CEO of the Arizona Bioindustry Association, Inc. “America is a world power because we know how to think. We’re losing our edge. Not only does STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) need to be at the core of what’s being taught, students must see relevancy to real life and learn to be creative and critical thinkers. It amounts to a needed change in the way we teach.”

Student retention through high school

“Ensuring that all our students are graduating from high school is simply the biggest priority,” sums Cathleen Barton, Arizona education manager for Intel. “We need students to graduate and be career- or college-ready,” she adds.

Study-after-study shows that students need education to get ahead. Barry Broome, CEO of Greater Phoenix Economic Council says that education is part of good economic development. “Improving education is a long-term investment for Arizona. Right now, only a small percentage of high schools generate half our college enrollment. That needs to change,” he says.

“We’re losing students at an unacceptable rate,” worries Bob Enderle, director of community relations at Medtronic. “About a quarter of our students don’t graduate high school, and that rate is higher in ethnically diverse populations.”

“Making education connect; making it more relevant will help keep students in school,” echoes Dave Cano, the company’s senior manager for continuous improvement and a member of Grand Canyon University’s STEM External Advisory Board. “When students don’t graduate, they earn less, the spend less and the add more costs to the system.”

Heumann adds that workers in minimum wage jobs do not earn enough to cover the costs of their services. “We need to help our students qualify for better jobs and then we need to make sure we have the jobs in the market,” he says. “With a high-paying job, a worker adds more value to the Arizona economy.”

Better education means a better economy

Eve Ross, W.L. Gore & Associates, Inc., director of public policy and strategic initiatives Ross about the vicious cycle, “Students are not getting a connection between what’s being learned and how it applies to careers. There are many well-paying careers that require some college, but not necessarily a four-year or graduate degree,” she says. “We need a whole class of student understanding and interested in manufacturing. We’re not talking about a worker tightening bolts on a parade of black Fords. We’re talking about workers who can see how things are made, and come up with ideas to make it better.”

“It’s a simple formula for economic growth. If we can’t attract well-paying careers, Arizona is not going to collect tax revenue for basic services,” she says. “We need a workforce who can read and understand a workplace; students who can do the math and innovate.”

Arizona does education well, but in pockets, says Koerber-Walker, “Schools are short on resources and there are many gaps creating ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots.’ We’re at the bottom of the barrel in too many ways with education. Business will not come if kids are prepared for the jobs.”

The investment in education for tomorrow’s economy comes at a crucial time. Arizona has invested millions of dollars to ready the education system for Common Core standards. “Common Core came out of the business sector,” explains Broome. “Industry needs a uniform standard by which is can compare education achievement to the same standards in every state. This is going to create some concern in Arizona when the results start coming in.”

Building passion for learning

“The world is rapidly changing. Tomorrow’s workforce needs to be able to adapt to a rapidly changing world.” Hal Halladay is the chief people officer for Infusionsoft, “The system needs to focus on training and teaching students to love learning. Education does not end at graduation. Students must be able to continue to learn in order to be able to handle global change.”

Medtronic has jumped into the partnering role with education. It’s been incredibly rewarding and equally frustrating. “We tried to bring students to demonstrate relevancy between what they’re learning and career opportunities, but the process was filled with road blocks,” says Ederle. “We ended up bringing in teachers as interns. One of the science instructors going through the program said it would change the way he taught physics. That’s a success, as we see it.”

Connecting science and technology to something students understand is the key of generating a passion for education. Zylstra talks about the Arizona SciTech Festival, “We had a physics professor talk about the science of baseball. All of the sudden, the kids were seeing how math and physics are in the world relevant to their interests. It’s this type of change we need in education to connect students to learning.”

“We have a mismatch between skills and opportunity,” Barton emphasizes. “Jobs are changing too fast, and education is not changing rapidly enough to keep up. We need to take schools to the next level of teaching.”

Koerber-Walker is concerned that there has been so much focus on what needed to be learned to pass the standardized tests, students weren’t given an opportunity to understand how to use the learning. “There needs to be improvement in outcomes,” she explains. “Students are lacking in soft skills. They need to learn critical thinking, problem solving and an ability to write and communicate.”

“We’re getting good workers coming out of college,” comments Halladay. “The problem is that while the students have the technical skills, they are not getting training on how to function in a face-to-face environment. They need an ability to adapt to changes and creatively solve challenges.”

Partnership part of a solid solution

“This is not going to be resolved by just giving schools more money,” Zylstra says. “It start with motivating parents to be participants in their child’s education. It requires business to partner with schools.” Enderle and Cano at Medtronic, agree. Barton and Heumann cited examples in their conversation.

Heumann doesn’t mince words. “We’re not competing with Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi for jobs. We’re competing with Texas, California, Washington and New York. Our education investment needs to be at their levels, not the bottom of the heap.”

“We need to re-fund education. The way education is funded does not reflect the needs of business in Arizona,” suggests Koerber-Walker. “Teachers are spending major portions of their own incomes supplying classrooms. That has to stop. We need to invest some dollars to provide schools with the tools to teach the workers we want to offer new business.”

“We have a lot of thoughtful people involved in the process of bettering our schools and workforce. In business, we know that if you don’t invest in training, you start losing ground to competition.” Barton is listing off the solutions she’d like to see for schools. “We want teachers to have the resources to make the curriculum relevant to keep students engaged.”

“Charter schools need to have the same public accountability as public schools,” insists Heumann. “If we have a well-balanced education with pay encouraging bright and effective teachers into the profession, we’re going to do a lot better with students coming out.”

Halladay sums up what a good education system means, “When I try to recruit top-level knowledge workers for my company, the quality of schools is a big reason they will accept or walk away from the job offer. The inconsistency of education quality across the Valley is a major recruiting challenge.”

Heumann sighs, “We can spend millions on cutting taxes and offering incentives. If we don’t have good workers, we’re not going to get good companies locating here. It’s simple economics.”
A well-educated workforce equals strong economic development.

Not making the grade
Personal finance social network WalletHub conducted an in-depth analysis of 2014’s states with the best and worst school systems. WalletHub used 12 key metrics, including dropout rates, test scores and bullying incident rates to assess the quality of education in each state. According to the analysis, Arizona has the 9th worst school system. Here is where Arizona schools rank in individual categories (1=best):
35th – Dropout rate
8th – Champlain University High School Financial Literacy Grade
36th – Math test score
46th – Reading test score
49th – Student-to-teacher ratio

Executive Education
Here are the colleges and universities in Arizona that offer post-graduate programs:

Argosy University
602-216-3118
Website
Number of campuses: 1
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Norma Patterson, associate vice president of academic compliance

Arizona State University
480-965-7788
Website
Number of campuses: 4
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Michael Crow, president

A.T. Still University
480-219-6000
Website
Number of campuses: 1
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Craig M. Phelps, president

Communiversity @ Surprise
480-384-9000
Website
Number of campuses: 1
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Master’s
Leadership: Todd Aakhus, Ph.D., director

DeVry University
602-870-9222
Website
Number of campuses: 4
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Master’s
Leadership: Craig Jacobs, metro president

Grand Canyon University
800-800-9776
Website
Number of campuses: 1
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Brian Mueller, CEO

Midwestern University
623-572-3200
Website
Number of campuses: 1
Online classes: No
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Kathleen Goeppinger, president and CEO

Northern Arizona University
928-523-9011
Website
Number of campuses: 34
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Rita Cheng, president

Ottawa University
800-235-9586
Website
Number of campuses: 3
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Master’s
Leadership: Dr. Kirk Wessel, dean of Angell Snyder School of Business

Thunderbird School of Global Management
602-978-7000
Website
Number of campuses: 1
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: MBA
Leadership: Larry Edward Penley, Ph.D., president

University of Arizona
520-621-1162
Website
Number of campuses: 2
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Ann Weaver Hart, president

University of Phoenix
480-557-2000
Website
Number of campuses: 5
Online classes: Yes
Highest degree offered: Doctorate
Leadership: Timothy P. Slottow, president

health.education

New Surprise College Spotlights Health Information

The College of St. Scholastica has opened its first venue in Arizona at the Communiversity @ Surprise, a higher education center at 15950 N. Civic Center Plaza in Surprise.

The Communiversity, which opened in 2009, is a partnership among six schools: Glendale Community College, Phoenix College, and Rio Salado College (all part of the Maricopa Community College System), Ottawa University, Northern Arizona University and now St. Scholastica. In addition to its new site in Surprise, St. Scholastica operates eight other U.S. locations as well a virtual campus, with a total enrollment of more than 4,200 students.

St. Scholastica’s initial programs in Surprise are online and include its Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Health Information Management, and a Master of Science in Health Informatics. St. Scholastica’s health information management program has been a national leader since it began in 1934 as the first such degree program in the nation. The College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, which also accredits Arizona institutions of higher learning.

Each of the College’s online programs in Surprise provides in-person support for admissions, financial aid and advising from St. Scholastica and Communiversity staff.
“St. Scholastica provides a new pathway to baccalaureate and graduate degrees for students currently enrolled at the Communiversity, and more broadly the Maricopa Community College system,” said St. Scholastica President Larry Goodwin. “Our goal is to offer innovative higher educational opportunities for students in Surprise and the entire West Valley.”

St. Scholastica will also utilize space in the Communiversity to deliver professional development sessions so healthcare professionals can take advantage of the College’s expertise in healthcare, and earn continuing education credits.

The College of St. Scholastica is a 102-year-old independent private college in the Catholic Benedictine tradition with its main campus in Duluth, Minnesota. St. Scholastica is regularly recognized for the quality of its academic programs. The 2014 “America’s Best Colleges” survey by U.S. News & World Report magazine ranks St. Scholastica in the top tier of Midwestern universities. For more information, call 623-694-0984 or visit www.css.edu.