Steve Bullock on Education
The Missoula College was built in 1956 for 700 students and now has an enrollment approaching 3,000. Last week I visited the Automotive and Diesel Program at Havre. It has 200 students, a 100% placement rate, and some graduates earn a starting salary better than a Governor. But without our investment, this program cannot grow.
And it's not just Missoula and Havre; many of our facilities are outdated and operating beyond their capacity. The young Montanans who are willing to invest in higher education deserve better. That's why [the state government]--along with the Montana Chamber of Commerce, the Montana Contractors Association and others--have joined together to propose record investments in our educational facilities.
We can't expect the federally funded Head Start program to carry the entire burden. Some local communities have stepped in to make sure these youngsters are given a better chance.
As a first step, I urge this body to expand the proven "Stars to Quality Program" and make the long overdue investment in school readiness. I've laid out a plan that will create 100 more high-quality early childhood programs, getting 600 more families and 1,000 more children ready for school, annually. It's a proven high-return investment that will produce long-lived benefits for the students and our economy. And our commitment and investment must continue throughout their schooling.
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