Event Discusses Educational Effectiveness

CAP teams up with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to offer education policy solutions for better preparing a 21st century workforce.

“States and districts need to adapt sound business practices in our schools,” Thomas Donohue, President and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told attendees at an event yesterday to release the report Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Effectiveness. “Despite decades of reform efforts and many trillions of dollars in investments…our studies found that when it comes to education, our states aren’t making the grade.”

America’s education system clearly needs work. That’s why the Center for American Progress, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and Frederick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute partnered to assess how well each state’s K-12 education system is preparing students to compete in the 21st century and offer policy solutions for improving the current status quo. Their work culminated with the creation of Leaders and Laggards: A State-by-State Report Card on Educational Effectiveness and a Joint Platform for Education Reform.

“A nation that purports to value human dignity, freedom, and advancement for all can not tolerate a status quo that leaves our children dramatically undereducated and unprepared for an increasingly competitive and volatile global economy,” said John Podesta, President and CEO of CAP.

These unacceptable standards led the Chamber of Commerce to conclude that a more business-like strategy for education would yield major dividends for improving the value of an American public school education. “By international standards, the U.S. spends far more than any other nations on education—and has smaller class sizes—yet receives far less value in terms of education outcomes,” Podesta explained.

“The business community finds itself in a position where it’s absolutely needed,” Donohue said. Fortunately, it is in the business community’s best interests to use their expertise and resources to enact this sort of reform.

“The business community is the ultimate consumer…of education in this country,” Arthur Rothkopf, Senior Vice President and Counselor to the President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce explained. Donahue concurred saying, “[An improved education system] is vitally important to the business community.”

Yet this kind of reform will be difficult to enact. “There is no question that we have a long way to go. Last week’s NAEP report showed that among 12th graders we are losing ground, not gaining ground,” Cynthia Brown, Director of Education Policy at CAP said. Donohue described it, saying, “[it is a] long term, uphill struggle that will have more moving parts than we know what to do with.”

Yet “We have an obligation to our children and to our nation to offer new solutions,” Podesta emphasized. “Our goal with these reports was to focus our efforts on four core goals—better teaching, more innovation, better data, and better management—that are often overlooked or not discussed.”

The suggested reforms are designed to address the high-stakes education crisis promptly and effectively. “Numerous comparative studies have concluded that the United States is falling well behind other nations in its ability to properly prepare our students for the future,” Podesta said. “Our collective inability or unwillingness to change our education system has dire consequences for the nation’s economy.”

The goal of the Chamber of Commerce and Center for American Progress’ joint platform is to create an education system that ensures every child has the opportunity to achieve the American dream. “At the end of the day, it’s about these youngsters’…ability to achieve in a much more complex world,” Rothkopf said.

Podesta warned that “This will obviously require some risk taking.” Yet, he countered that “The alternative of deteriorating schools, undereducated children, and declining economic fortune for this country cannot stand.”

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