Governor Deval L. Patrick
Vision Project Event
State House, Boston, MA
Thursday, September 20, 2012

Good morning.  Thank you all for coming here this morning and thank you for your continued support of public higher education in Massachusetts.

I have had the opportunity to do business across the globe, during my time in the private sector and since I’ve been Governor, and there are two observations that seem relevant today.  First, Massachusetts is known, around the world, as a center of education excellence.  And second, everyone else is trying to be us.  Thanks to a knowledge explosion in the global economy, the whole world knows that education is the widest path to growth and prosperity. 

That’s no surprise to anyone here.  All of us here today, I am certain, know that we are where we are because at some point in our lives, someone had the foresight to invest in us and our future.  Someone gave us the chance at a great education and that education gave us a way forward.  And we learned, importantly, to keep learning.  So, we come here this morning to do the same for a new generation. 

We have a lot to be proud of in Massachusetts.  MCAS scores are up again.   After years of disinvestment, we are rebuilding our public higher ed campuses.  We recently passed landmark reforms to align our community college system with the workforce needs and job openings in every region of the state.  Enrollment is up in public higher ed and there are truly remarkable and innovative programs happening on every campus.  More and more people are getting their chance at the American Dream at our schools.

But we are also here today because we know we have more work to do.  Today’s report shows where we are doing well and where we need to do better.  We have an economic and a moral imperative to get this right.  And if we are going to get this right, we can’t allow ourselves to be complacent.  We have to be willing to ask tough questions – like this report does – and accept honest answers.  We have to look at the way things are today and ask ourselves whether this is really the way a 21st century public higher education system should look.  We have to recognize that we are competing not just against North Carolina or California but against China and Brazil and India.  Let’s work together to discern the best way forward and then let’s step off together.

This is important.  And  Americans rarely leave what we believe is important entirely to chance.  When we decided that settling the West was important, we created land grant programs and built the transcontinental railroad.  When we decided that educating our children was important, we developed public schools and universities.  When we decided that liberty for all was important, really important, we freed the slaves, gave women the right to vote, and sometimes even went to war.  We tend to shape our own future rather than just let it happen to us. 

That’s what we’ve been about these past six years.  Let’s keep that going to shape a better future for the next generation.

Thank you for coming and thank you for being a part of this.  I look forward to working with you.