Business leaders across the nation agree: the U.S. workforce is not producing enough highly qualified applicants to fill increasingly complex and technologically demanding jobs. Many top CEOs and industry leaders herald the Common Core State Standards as an antidote to the workforce problem. Here is what they have to say in their own words.
By Rex Tillerson, The Wall Street Journal
September 5, 2013
"American employers do not have enough applicants with adequate skills, especially in science, technology, engineering and math. The "STEM-related" positions that U.S. industry needs to fill are not just for biochemists, biophysicists and engineers. More and more jobs are applying cutting-edge technologies and now demand deeper knowledge of math and science in positions that most people don't think of as STEM-related, including machinists, electricians, auto techs, medical technicians, plumbers and pipefitters.
"As a nation, we must unite in recognizing the mounting evidence that the U.S. is falling behind international competitors in producing students ready for 21st-century jobs. According to the most recent Program for International Assessment, U.S. students rank 14th in the world in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math-and the trend line is moving in the wrong direction.
"We have an opportunity to reverse this trend but it will take setting the right priorities. That starts with establishing high standards. It means leaders from government and business, and parents, need to defend the Common Core State Standards, which have been adopted wholly or in part by dozens of states in recent years but are increasingly under attack from across the political spectrum.
"A major benefit of the Common Core State Standards is that they encourage students to analyze and apply critical reasoning skills to the texts they are reading and the math problems they are solving. These are the capabilities that students need as they prepare for high-skill jobs."
By Cheryl Oldham, The Huffington Post
September 4, 2013
"Should states only set educational standards that are easily attainable? Apparently, that's what many critics of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) believe. This notion should drive every parent insane. Personally, as a mother of two young boys - one in preschool, the other about to begin 5th grade in public school - I shudder to think that the expectations placed on my kids are only just enough to be attainable.
"For decades, we have been dishonest with parents and students, and told them they were on track even though the data tells a different story. Fifty percent of undergraduates and 70% of community college students must take at least one remedial course because they are underprepared. Proficiency rates on state assessments look great, but when compared to the Nation's Report Card, the numbers drop dramatically, particularly for low-income and minority students. States have set mediocre, dare I say "attainable," standards so that passage rates on assessments are acceptable to adults, and so states/districts/schools can escape accountability.
"We're finally in a place where 45 states and the District of Columbia have adopted rigorous college and career-ready standards."
Common core is 'mission critical'
By Jim Hunt, The News & Observer (NC)
August 30, 2013
"When business leaders around the country say that they need a workforce that can meet today's workplace demands, we should all be listening and taking action.
"Just as businesses reassess their strategic plans and adapt or adjust to remain competitive, we must do the same when it comes to education. As we have moved toward an economy that's more technological and service-oriented, workforce skills have changed. What prepared students in 1993 no longer prepares our students for new, real-world demands in 2013 and beyond. Technology has changed jobs everywhere - from the way we go about repairing cars to how we do our banking. This is the reality of an evolving world.
"The good news is that states across the country are working to ensure that every student is prepared to succeed - whether pursuing a college degree, industry-based certification, associates' degree or going straight into the world of work. Whether you call them Common Core Standards or college- and career-ready standards, the standards being implemented by 49 states and territories, the District of Columbia and by the U.S. Department of Defense are aligned with college and career readiness."
By Allie M. Bush, M Live (MI)
September 5, 2013
"Today's competitive and global economy requires education standards that reflect the changing realities of tomorrow's workplace. Companies across the state and here in West Michigan look worldwide for resources and individuals to create value and deliver high-quality products and services. Regardless of business size, employers are constantly seeking the best talent.
"This means students need every tool and opportunity to maximize their potential. It is critical that our approach to education reflects the skills that employers are seeking. Currently in Michigan, 68 percent of third graders read proficiently, 76 percent are graduating high school, and only 20 percent of high school graduates are considered to be career- or college-ready. These statistics are a call to action. "In response, Michigan adopted the Common Core State Standards in 2010 and is expected to fully implement the standards by the 2014-2015 school year.
"If we are to remain competitive with the 21st century global economy, our students and their families deserve every opportunity to succeed. The Common Core State Standards are a piece of the larger puzzle to help ensure our children can grow and prosper. On behalf of the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, we urge the legislature to continue with the implementation of Common Core."
Achieve has developed materials to help states, districts, and others understand the organization and content of the standards and the content and evidence base used to support the standards. Visit www.achieve.org/achieving-common-core. If you find a news clip supportive of the Common Core, please send it to Chad Colby at firstname.lastname@example.org.