California employers have long understood that their survival in the global economy depends on a quality education system capable of preparing students to compete in a highly skilled workforce, and increasingly this requires access to a college degree or other post-secondary training. In its January 2013 report on the California Workforce, the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) found that, based on its 2025 projections, the state economy will need more and more highly educated workers, but the state’s education system will fail to meet that demand by at least 1 million college graduates. Education


  • Foster greater business involvement to improve both teacher and student performance and administrative accountability in schools throughout California.

Major Victories

  • Backed proposal signed into law in 2013 improving the associate degree for transfer pathway for students (SB 440).

  • Helped improve alignment in 2012 in the state’s workforce needs and education resources (SB 1402).

  • Supported bills signed into law in 2012 that provide support services to students on the front end of their educational experience, as well as strengthen and focus California career technical education programs (SB 1456, SB 1070).

  • Supported High-Quality Curriculum and Instruction. Backed 2011 legislation that will increase high school graduation rates, improve the college and workplace readiness of those graduates and train teachers to better prepare California’s students to compete in a global economy by emphasizing education programs that provide students with real-world experience and rigorous coursework to help them engage and excel (SB 611, SB 612).

  • Promoted Student Preparation for Workplace. Advocated passage of legislation in 2010 that will help increase the number of students who go on to obtain a four-year degree by requiring California Community Colleges to offer an associate’s degree for transfer (SB 1440); and bills putting California in the best position to meet requirements for federal grants for education (SBX5 4, SBX5 1).

  • Supported Rigorous Education Standards. Joined former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and other business organizations in arguing in favor of the Algebra I test requirement for eighth graders, the highest mathematics education standard in the nation. Adoption of the standard by the state education board in 2008 will maintain the state’s competitiveness and appeal to world-class businesses with high-wage jobs.

  • Protected hard-won measures to ensure schools are held accountable for student achievement in a court case upholding the high school exit exam and by securing the veto of legislation that would have undermined the effectiveness of the exam by lowering state student proficiency standards (AB 2975).


Growing California’s college-educated workforce by 1 million graduates by 2025 is an ambitious, but worthwhile goal, as is increasing the number of high school graduates who are qualified to fill the growing number of middle-skill jobs. It will require that all schools throughout the education pipeline, from K–12 through post-secondary, improve their student outcomes, learn to better articulate with each other, and incorporate meaningful curriculum that aligns with the skills employers are looking for when they hire.

To that end, the CalChamber will continue to advocate for reforms and support legislation and regulations, including those related to the LCFF and Career Pathways Trust, that seek to:

  • Expand accountability and assessment measures;
  • Improve high school graduation rates;
  • Encourage the development of high-quality post-secondary education options;
  • Ensure career technical education is high-quality and rigorously aligned with academic standards;
  • Demonstrate a long-term financial and policy commitment to higher education;
  • Promote state and private investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

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Mira GuertinMira Guertin
Policy Advocate 
Education, Health Care

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