Haslam revving engine of ‘Drive to 55’ plan

Relaunching his “Drive to 55” college completion plan to hundreds of his closest allies at the Music City Center, Gov. Bill Haslam began laying out his argument today for why the state should focus on increasing college graduation rates.

His goal is for 55 percent of Tennesseans to have at least a two-year degree or certification by 2025, a target that equates to an additional 494,000 people finishing post-secondary programs beyond the 39 percent already projected to by that time. (see PDF of presentation here)

Citing the need to stock quality employees that companies locating here will want to hire and a desire to make continuing education more affordable, Haslam added the state has a “moral challenge” not to leave a portion of its population behind.

The officials indicated the governor has a variety of plans in the works that he’ll plan to pitch to the legislature in January, including changes to the dual enrollment program in high schools and expanding the tnAchieves program offering free community college and mentors to students in more counties. Haslam said he will likely also want to funnel more money into the state’s high education system and hone in on community colleges. He plans to hit the road in coming weeks to start selling the rest of the state on his plan, according to the governor’s office.