American Business Community Addresses the Achievement Gap in Schools
The New America Alliance (NAA) and The Executive Leadership Council, preeminent organizations of business leaders in the Latino and African-American communities, respectively, along with education experts and key stakeholders, have declared that the economic impact associated with the education achievement gap cannot be ignored, and have resolved to initiate a national movement to transform American K-12 education for the benefit of all children.
At a recently convened summit in California, a coalition of 140 business, education, government and nonprofit leaders was established to mobilize the American business community to confront this issue, as the staggering statistics show that more than half of Latino and African-American children in public schools do not graduate, and many of those who do are not prepared for competition in this global economy and likely consigned to lower-paying jobs. Also, the group heard from leading experts that the education crisis is a national crisis that, left unaddressed, will drain our country as we increasingly become non-competitive for the best-paying jobs worldwide in a global economy.
A study presented at the gathering by McKinsey & Company revealed the U.S. loses an estimated $3-5 billion a day in productivity by not addressing the problems in public education. The U.S. was ranked 24th in math and 25th in science among all developed nations; the U.S. spends more money than any other developed nation per student performance, yet globally ranks only 18th out of the top 24 industrialized nations. Additionally, the Broad Foundation estimates high school dropouts from the class of 2007 alone will cost our nation over $300 billion in lost wages, lost taxes and lost productivity over their lifetimes. Moreover, although the situation is far more serious as concerns Latino and African-American children, 22% of white youths in public schools also do not graduate.
"Bluntly stated, America's economic future is at stake unless the education crisis is addressed by our leaders at the national, state and local levels," said Carlos Loumiet, NAA's chairman. "If our public education system was a business product, it simply would not sell. This is not just a societal crisis, but also a huge problem for American business, which must respond by driving ideas and resources where they are needed most. We must muster the national will to tackle this problem as we have all our prior crises that have faced our nation."
"The state of education for black and brown youngsters in America is deplorable," said Carl Brooks, president and CEO of The Executive Leadership Council. "There are dozens of high schools in America that are literally 'dropout factories.' Kids that leave those schools are more likely to end up in jail, become less-productive citizens and drain government coffers rather than contribute to society. America cannot be economically competitive unless K-12 public education is transformed."
John C. Guerra, Jr., NAA's CEO said, "When you have various stakeholders — Fortune 500 companies, universities and colleges, primary and secondary school systems, public and private foundations, advocacy organizations, White House representatives and elected officials — all aiming in the same direction, you have a chance to transform this country for the benefit of all children for generations to come."