U.S. Chamber Foundation Hosts Summit To Highlight Need for Crucial Education Reforms

Monday, September 16, 2013 - 8:00pm

Event Focuses on Importance of an Educated and Skilled Workforce

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Business, government, and education thought leaders today made the case for ensuring that America’s employers have the educated and skilled workforce they need to remain competitive at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation and National Chamber Foundation’s Education Reform Summit. Specifically, they urged for the implementation of internationally benchmarked college- and career-ready standards in K-12 education.

“Our country continues to fall further behind other developed nations when it comes to educating our kids, which is a losing proposition for students and the economy,” said Cheryl Oldham, vice president of Education Policy at the U.S. Chamber. “Ensuring that students are college- and career-ready when leaving high school will save the nation billions of dollars in remediation costs and supply American businesses with the talent necessary to compete globally.”

Though there are a few exceptions, American public schools are generally producing fewer students with the skills they need for long-term success. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), proficiency in fundamental disciplines is slipping. Among the 34 leading industrialized countries, the United States ranks 14th in reading literacy, 17th in science, and 25th in math.

“Jobs and education are closely linked, but this isn’t only about improving higher education; it’s about workforce readiness and meeting marketplace demands,” said Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, who delivered a keynote address at the summit. “Whether in Tennessee or in states across the country, our economic vitality depends on us doing a better job of preparing our citizens for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

At the summit, the Foundation launched “Profiles of Change,” a video campaign featuring education reform leaders telling the stories of how they pushed for change in the education system in their communities. The first video features former Florida Governor Jeb Bush discussing the major modifications he implemented in Florida schools that challenged the status quo in his state.

The Foundation also released a school governance guide designed to inform and encourage business leaders to become engaged in the governance of their local school districts. Decisions made by local school boards affect the quality of education delivered, but school governance has routinely been left out of reform discussions, and school boards often function with little oversight from the communities they serve. The guide denotes that a strong education system produces graduates who are prepared for higher education or the workforce. Ultimately, these graduates will become part of a skilled workforce that will attract businesses to and enhance economic vitality in your community.

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, former U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, The Smartest Kids in the World author Amanda Ripley, and others participated in the Summit.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation (USCCF) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce dedicated to strengthening America’s long-term competitiveness by addressing developments that affect our nation, our economy, and the global business environment.

The National Chamber Foundation, a nonprofit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, is dedicated to identifying and fostering public debate on emerging critical issues. We provide business and government leaders with insight and resources to address tomorrow’s challenges.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than 3 million businesses of all sizes, sectors, and regions, as well as state and local chambers and industry associations.