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Scholarly pursuits

| November 10, 2005 11:00 PM

The Wyoming Legislature created a $400 million endowment during the 2005 legislative session to provide educational opportunities for generations of students.

The goal is to provide financial assistance to Wyoming students based on their high school accomplishments and their continued efforts during eight semesters of college. For instance, a student who had earned a 3.5 grade-point average and scored a 23 on the ACT would be eligible for the top scholarship of $1,250 per semester for eight semesters providing he or she maintains a grade-point average of 3.25 as a full-time student. The lower achieving students would be eligible for $750.

Education is constantly battered around as the key for future economic development, for the ability of a state's workforce to adapt to changing conditions. If we really believed that then we would be following Wyoming's lead especially since tuition in Montana has risen astronomically during the past decade.

The Western governor's Association just spent two days at their winter meeting in Scottsdale, Ariz. the first topic of discussion on the agenda was "Jobs of the Future — Preparing the Western Workforce."

If we really believed that education was a key to stabilizing our economy and empowering our citizens, we would be finding ways to provide training and education opportunities for everyone in the workforce. The present system waits until those employees are regurgitated from the workforce, laid off because of a mill closing or a factory cutback. Then we provide them training and/or education opportunities over a limited timeline and, if they have families, in a tough economy circumstance.

If we really believed in education as a elixir to individual and family economic woes, as well as workplace short-comings, we would provide the same opportunity and access to learning as Wyoming is doing for its high school and college students.

We'd truly have a skilled workforce thanks to a program that would make the rest of the country, as well as the world, stand up and take notice. And it would be Made in Montana. — Roger Morris