Sec. of Higher Ed Examines Brain Drain and Racial Inequality
Steve Adubato sits down with Zakiya Smith Ellis, New Jersey’s Secretary of Higher Education, to explore the issues of affordability of higher education, the brain drain and the racial inequality gap.
"State of Affairs is pleased to welcome for the first time, it will not be the last, Zakiya Smith Ellis, New Jersey Secretary of Higher Education. Good to see you. Good to see you. Describe your role. So the Secretary of Higher Education is supposed to provide advice to the governor, and really to the state as a whole, on the direction of higher education policy for higher education, and making sure that our students are successful while they're in college. Yeah. Affordability a huge issue, right? It is a huge issue. Break it down. Especially in New Jersey. New Jersey actually has a higher tuition rate than many other states. When it comes to going to college, people pay more here than they might otherwise. And that's a challenge, because we want more people to go to college. And if they're scared by the price, then it can be daunting for people. But... Madam Secretary? Is that what you go by? Oh, whatever. [laughter] You know! Let me ask you this Secretary. The gap, the racial equity gap, as it relates to those who are going, who are not going, who can't afford, who can't afford higher ed? Talk about it. Yeah. So we've got a lot of great things going on in the state. Great institutions of higher education. Actually overall high completion rates, more people graduate here than in other places, but when you break it down by race and income, a lot of people who are from lower income backgrounds can't afford to go to college. And when you look at who goes to college, we have a lot lower college-going rate in the racial minority groups, and in people who are first in their family to go to college, or in lower income areas. So we got to close that. What do we do to... break that down, what do we do to improve it, if you will? I think we've got to increase affordability. So we've got to improve affordability, and then we've got to acknowledge it, right? We've got to go to places. I used to be a college counselor, so I used to go to high schools in East Boston. Okay. And I help a lot of immigrant kids, a lot of people who don't really have any experience with college, and you've got to help them understand, what is it to go to college? What does it mean? It's just a whole culture around going to college. You know, it's interesting. We've had people on who have... very successful entrepreneurs. Gary Vee, check him out. He's an entrepreneur. He's out there. We had him on our other show, One on One. He's like, "You know, college..."