ICW's April 2012 Newsletter
A monthly update from ICW on education and workforce initiatives and policies.
Twenty-nine years ago, A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform alerted the U.S. about the grim outlook of the public education system. President Reagan’s commission that authored the report included the following statement in a letter sent to then-Secretary of Education Terrel Bell: “Our purpose has been to help define the problems afflicting American education and to provide solutions, not search for scapegoats.” That sentiment still holds true.
There is considerable talk in Washington these days about Pell Grants. Both the House Majority and the White House have suggested plans for the future of the low-income student grant program, though it is still unclear whether either of the plans will move forward. Last week, the Washington think tank, Education Sector, hosted a forum titled, "Is the Pell Grant Sustainable?" to discuss what should become of the program that helps low-income students pay for undergraduate degrees. While the title of the event was meant to serve as the guiding question for conversation, the query was quickly reconsidered as the wrong one to ask.
I couldn't help but think as I was sitting in a packed conference room at the Business Civic Leadership Center’s (BCLC) national conference last week, that it's amazing we still have an education problem in this country. BCLC gathered corporate social responsibility professionals in Atlanta for a discussion on how to address some of the greatest challenges facing America today―and public education is certainly one of the toughest. But with so many companies, foundations, nonprofit organizations, and policy institutions all committed to improving our public education system; shouldn’t we be making more progress?
While drafting the Declaration of Independence, the founders wove in words near and dear to American hearts. The phrase "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," is known to every child as the unalienable rights given to us as Americans. But, there is another thing that the founders had the forethought to weave throughout this document; the concept of accountability. It is every American’s duty to ensure our systems are working to the best of their abilities and are accountable for their actions. That is why on May 15th the Institute for a Competitive Workforce (ICW) will unveil a new 13-city case study report to take a close look at the role school boards play throughout the country.
America needs a workforce skilled in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), and a notable group of companies and organizations is uniting to ensure that the nation gets the message. This summer, thousands of education, policy and industry thought leaders will convene in Dallas, Texas for STEM Solutions 2012, a groundbreaking leadership summit that will bring the best minds and best practices together on a national stage to open the conversation and develop solutions to the STEM skills shortage.