Gov. John Kitzhaber wants 100 percent of high school students to graduate. That goal is a big part of his third term agenda.
NewsChannel 21 traveled with the governor Wednesday as he toured two educational facilities in Bend, the Oregon National Guard Youth Challenge facility for at-risk youth east of Bend, and OSU-Cascades.
The reality, he says, is many of the future jobs in our state will require some post-secondary education.
Kitzhaber says those jobs are really the pathway to the middle class, and education is a key part of that.
Kitzhaber was in class Wednesday to learn the potential of a four-year university in Central Oregon.
Kitzhaber and the Legislature have promised $16 million in bonds for the OSU-Cascades expansion.
"We have resources for that expansion," Kitzhaber said. "I think that's a really cost-effective example of how you can expand post-secondary education opportunities here in Central Oregon. It's going to be a real model."
"The governor seemed very supportive," said Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades. "I think he understands how this region is becoming increasingly important economically to this state, and he wants to see this region grow."
That growth for the school could be the next hurdle. The school needs land.
"We, of course, would like to stay in walking distance of this building where we are right now," Johnson said of the OSU Cascades Graduate Research Center, located off Columbia Street in Bend. "So we are looking at property within walking distance of here."
There's been talk of combining the Redmond and Bend National Guard armories into one location, thus giving the school an opportunity to bid for the land that sits close to the Graduate Research Center.
Speaking of the National Guard, the governor continued his tour on the High Desert with a stop at the Youth Challenge Program in Bend.
The military-type program helps at-risk 16 to 18-year-olds become productive members of society.
The governor saw how the students live and where they study.
"Our aspiration is for every Oregonian and every young person to succeed," Kitzhaber said. "There are some kids today, particularly in the 16 to 18 group, that are clearly going to drop out of high school and have dropped out of high school. This gives them an opportunity to come back in and get back on a path to be productive members of society."
Both stops are examples of the work needed to make Kitzhaber's educational goals a reality.
April 17th is "OSU Day" at the Oregon Capitol, a chance to show the impact the school has in our state.
And many OSU-Cascades students and alums will be there, to share the importance of the four-year expansion here in Central Oregon.