Skip to main content

Key Messages from the 2022 Emerging Issues Forum

Graphic recording by Caryn Sterling, Drawing Insight
Graphic recording by Caryn Sterling, Drawing Insight

By Pat Cronin, IEI Assistant Director

I’ve been having a lot of fun looking at graphic recorder Caryn Sterling’s depiction of the recent Emerging Issues Forum. I’m totally devoid of drawing talent myself but so appreciative of those who have it. Caryn’s artwork—and that is what it is—does an amazing job of highlighting key messages we wanted to get across. Among them…

Prosperity for all. Boosting educational attainment is critical to our economy and communities for short-term recovery and longer-term resilience. Indeed, education is an “antidote to poverty” and the surest way to raise living standards for families and communities. But we must not only raise attainment rates on average, we must intentionally close our attainment gaps by income, race/ethnicity and for those who are first in their families to go on to higher education.

Careers for all mindset. One of the points that resonated strongly with me is the idea that education must be seen as a pathway to a career. We do a disservice to people in our state when we use the phrase “college for all.” Full-time college doesn’t work for everyone, and some meaningful credentials may come outside of a college setting. And we better serve learners—younger and older—by showing how specific educational pathways lead to rewarding careers. We can also support learners by instilling from an early age the idea that education after high school is both possible and expected.

This work is relational. Everyone has a role to play and the work must be owned at the local level in communities across our state. Partnerships and collaboration that break down traditional work silos are a must, especially those that put learners, their families and employers at the center and ask how we can all best support their needs. As more than one speaker related, collaboration like this takes intentionality and time. And it never hurts to look for the early wins to build momentum (What is your Big Easy?).

My thanks to everyone who participated in the Forum as a speaker or attendee, especially those who made a specific commitment to act. We will be following up with those folks in the coming months to see how their work is going and, with their permission, to share some of this with our readers. Missed your chance to make a commitment at the Forum? Or missed the Forum but want to make a commitment to promote educational attainment in your community? There still time to make your commitment today! If you are looking for a commitment idea, please consider these.

In the meantime, feel free to browse our curated set of resources which we will be updating in the coming weeks. And learn more about the five organizations supporting educational attainment in their communities that we will be supporting over the coming two years.