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Editorial: New collaborative seeks to align educational goals

Local leaders are on the right track with the creation of a new initiative called the Rowan Educational Collaborative.

The group, which meets biweekly, is composed of people such as Commissioners Chairman Greg Edds, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College President Carol Spalding, Rowan-Salisbury Schools Superintendent Lynn Moody,  representatives from Livingstone and Catawba colleges and Economic Development Commission President Rod Crider. But its existence is more important than community leaders talking amongst each other.

In a time when Rowan County wants to position itself for growth, it’s critical to align educational priorities. Edds said it well in an editorial board meeting with the  Post.

“In addition to the alignment from K to 12, how does it get handed off to Rowan-Cabarrus (Community College) in a coordinated way,” Edds said.

Crider said employers are still searching for workers with skills that meet their needs and that education in the 21st century requires a “more integrated and system-wide view.”

“We’re trying to build the workforce of the future,” Spalding said.

But many students will choose to go to a four-year school, and the question for those folks is whether they will return immediately after graduation or at some point in their future. Community leaders must foster a climate where there are a number of good job opportunities for college graduates for that to happen.

Rowan County may not become the top choice for folks with graduate degrees  and job experience in biomedicine, for example, but we may be able to capitalize on the presence of the N.C. Research Campus in Kannapolis and encourage people to live in Rowan rather than within the sprawl of Charlotte.

As a guiding statement, the collaborative asks, “How can Rowan County create an agile talent framework that promotes prosperity for businesses and residents?”

The answers to that question, according to the collaborative, include exceeding national rates of educational attainment, doubling the number of occupational and career education completers, career-focused opportunities for all students, increasing the placement rate of graduates with Rowan County employers and leveraging Rowan county’s community assets to “foster a culture of education.”

Spalding says that community leaders in the group talked between one another on a regular basis, but weren’t doing so every two weeks until the collaborative was created in March.

We look forward to seeing results from the group’s creation and agree with the core idea that aligning priorities between local educational institutions will produce better results for the Salisbury-Rowan community.

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