Central New Mexico Community College president Kathie Winograd on Tuesday told a group of attorneys that the future of New Mexico was doomed if education here is not reformed.
Winograd, speaking before the Albuquerque Bar Association’s luncheon at the Embassy Suites, cited staggering statistics about the state’s educational system. For example, about a third of entering UNM freshman need remedial courses. The state’s high school graduation rate has also been notoriously low, especially for minorities.
“Our challenge is that we are ranked very, very low in any kind of ranking. But this is the one that’s saddest to me,” Winograd said, referencing New Mexico’s second-to-last ranking in overall risks to children.
“The predictions for New Mexico’s future are very bleak,” she said.
Winograd talked about the role higher education plays in improving those statistics – and the New Mexico economy.
She said research shows that by 2020, 61 percent of jobs will require a college certificate or degree.
“The thing we know about a college education is that it really does improve our future,” Winograd said.
That’s where CNM comes in, she said.
The state’s largest higher ed institution, CNM serves more than 30,000 students. She said students who graduate from CNM have on average 40 percent higher salaries than those who do not have certificates or degrees.
“That adds to the tax base of New Mexico,” she said.
But college attendance and graduation rates are too low now, and if rates continue as is, “we will be one of the lowest educated states in the country,” Winograd said.
“We can face these challenges but we ned to do this together,” she said.
Winograd said it was crucial that the community be engaged in higher education. For example, she encouraged Bar members to give input on everything from how to make college more affordable to how to forge more partnerships with job providers.
Still, the state is doing some things right, Winograd said.
Its dual credit program, which allows high school students to take college courses that also fulfill their high school requirements, is “one of the more exciting things that have happened in higher education,” Winograd said.
— This article appeared on page C2 of the Albuquerque Journal