Business leaders push for school improvement

Dozens of business leaders from across Kentucky have come together to push for dramatic improvement in the state’s schools and to support educators and students as they work toward that goal.

The Business Leader Champions for Education is chaired by James R. Allen of Louisville, CEO of Hilliard Lyons, and is a joint initiative of the Kentucky Chamber Foundation and the Prichard Committee for Academic Excellence. The group is made up of corporate executives and other business leaders from across the commonwealth who will serve as the employer voice in urging the state to provide an education of the highest possible quality for Kentucky’s citizens. Click here to view the members of the group.

The group’s initial focus will be support for the new, tougher academic standards now being taught in Kentucky’s classrooms. These internationally benchmarked standards are focused on better preparing students for college and the workplace, something of critical importance to the state’s employers.

Business Leader Champions for Education will communicate to educators, students, parents, policy leaders and other Kentuckians about the vital importance of staying the course with the new standards – and the challenging work they require – to build a world-class education system in the state.

Business support for education has always been essential for Kentucky, Allen noted, citing the 1990 Kentucky Education Reform Act and the postsecondary education reforms of 1997. “The state is once again at a critical place in its quest for educational excellence, and the need for a strong employer voice is greater than ever. Kentucky’s business leaders can make a positive difference for schools, students and the state’s future if we join together and share our expectations for Kentucky education and our support for the people and institutions that make the right things happen.”

The Business Leader Champions effort is part of an initiative of the Chamber Foundation, working in partnership with the Prichard Committee, to raise employer awareness of and support for the new standards. The initiative has the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The changes now underway in Kentucky’s schools hold great promise for creating a more highly skilled workforce that is better equipped to meet the needs of employers,” said Dave Adkisson, president and CEO of the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce. “To compete in a knowledge-based, global economy, we must improve the academic performance of our students.”

“Employer support for the new standards is critical to ensuring they guide the state toward achieving its goals for better schools,” said Stu Silberman, executive director of the Prichard Committee. “This is hard and challenging work, but it is work that must be done if we are to make significant and sustainable progress.”

The Business Leader Champions group plans to speak up publicly about developments in Kentucky’s schools that it believes will help, or hinder, the progression toward excellence, Allen added.

“We believe it is time for Kentucky’s employers to make ourselves heard, in an organized, positive and constructive way, about what we need our schools to be to ensure a prosperous future for the state and all of its citizens. We plan to be vocal in our support for schools, students and teachers as they work to make that stronger future a reality.”

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Wednesday, August 8, 2012