“Failure to make improvements [in educational outcomes] will result in a less-productive economy, lower incomes for residents, less tax revenue for the state, and more dependence on social services.”—Public Policy Institute of California
While lawmakers, employers and individuals have been busy trying to weather the recession and the nation’s painfully slow recovery, a much greater threat has been lurking. The statement above, from the latest California 2025 report by the Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC), highlights a growing threat Californians will have to face over the next 15 years—namely, the failure of the state’s education system to adequately train enough workers to meet the demands of the economy. Education
- Foster greater business involvement to improve both teacher and student performance and administrative accountability in schools throughout California.
Helped improve alignment of the state’s workforce needs and education resources (SB 1402).
Supported bills signed into law 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 goal. However, the state’s standard of living and quality of life are more closely intertwined with a highly skilled workforce than almost any other attribute that can be influenced by state public policy.
Despite the state’s ongoing financial difficulties, it is clear that there are still areas where meaningful reforms can be implemented, often at little or no cost to the state. The CalChamber will continue to advocate for reforms in these areas, and support legislation to:
- Defend and expand current accountability and assessment systems.
- Better align workforce and college readiness.
- Define “teacher quality” as the ability to improve and maintain student academic achievement.
- Improve fiscal transparency and effectiveness.
- Ensure career technical education is high quality and aligned with academic standards.
- Maintain 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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