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ASSOCIATION FOR CAREER & TECHNICAL EDUCATION

Chamber of Commerce President Shares State of American Business

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January 8, 2014

Chamber of Commerce President Shares State of American Business

“If you can’t make them see the light, at least make them feel the heat.” This was the opening remark of Thomas Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce during his State of American Business event on January 8. Mr. Donohue touched on many key issues affecting the American people during this event, most notably regulation reform, the Affordable Care Act, and entitlement reform. In the last ten minutes of the event, he emphasized the importance of education to the prosperity and recovery of the American economy.

“We need a positive revolution in American education and training,” Mr. Donahue said in regards to the adoption of common core standards amongst states. “It is beyond me how this nation can be so complacent when thirty plus percent of our young people don’t even graduate from high school. Millions who do graduate have not even learned to properly read, comprehend, write, and count…Tragically, that can be the prescription for permanent inequality.” That inequality, he proposed, was the fact that the American public education system is very diverse and inconsistent, thus providing excellent education and opportunity to some, and below-adequate education to others.

He went on to further address the skills gap found in the public education system, “The severe educational and skills gap that we face today is a challenge that should unite us as a nation, as political parties, and as a society…We must ensure that every young person learns basic skills and is properly equipped for jobs and careers that are actually going to exist in the 21st century.”

Donohue’s comments show that there is work to be done by ACTE and other CTE organizations. The problems being addressed are gaps that CTE can fill. We need to partner with our local businesses and workforce training providers to ensure that CTE is seen as a legitimate and viable option in addressing inadequacy and skills gaps. Donohue concluded by driving home the heart of his message, “If our nation doesn’t get … serious about the millions of young people who drop out of school or who graduate unable to master the basic skills and work habits, nothing else we do is going to set this country on the right course.” There is something that we can do right now, promote CTE!  

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