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U.S. Chamber and Corporate Partners Assemble to Explore Improvements to Nation's Education System
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The United States Chamber of Commerce today brought together lawmakers, leaders from corporate America, and education professionals to kick off the 2005 Business Education Network (BEN) Summit in Washington, part of an aggressive new initiative to increase the business community's involvement in education reform.
"America's employers have always had a vested interest in the quality of the nation's education system because it is a critical component in the development of a productive workforce," said Suzanne Clark, chief operating officer for the Chamber. "This summit provides a unique opportunity for businesses to pool both their ideas and resources in the interest of making the country's schools a model of excellence for the rest of the world."
The three-day summit, hosted by the Chamber's Center for Corporate Citizenship in association with Booz Allen Hamilton, GlaxoSmithKline, IBM, Office Depot, Standard & Poor's, Oracle, Progress Energy, KPMG, Siemens and State Farm, is primarily focused on building business and education partnerships to improve competitiveness and scholastic performance.
Numerous recent studies have shown American students are lagging behind their counterparts around the world, particularly in math and science proficiency. As a result, employers are increasingly struggling to find qualified workers. The Chamber's own Center for Workforce Preparation estimates that in just five years, as many as 10 million jobs will go unfilled because those in the labor pool will lack basic required skills.
In addition to presentations by nationally recognized leaders in business and education reform, the summit included the public unveiling of the BEN website, an interactive clearinghouse of information that features education initiatives of top companies, discussion forums, and toolkits for business-education collaboration. The Chamber also presented former North Carolina Governor James Hunt with the first ever BEN Excellence in Education Leadership Award for his outstanding efforts in education reform both in his home state and across the nation.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world's largest business federation, representing more than three million businesses of every size, sector and region.
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