Today’s kindergarten students are tomorrow’s college students and workforce. As leaders in business and education, we need all our students to come to us prepared for what lies ahead. Although we don’t know all the jobs of the future, we know that to ensure our future prosperity, we need an agile, adaptable workforce ready to take on tomorrow’s challenges.
We need to shift how we educate people from cradle to career, in part by taking collective responsibility for successfully moving the student through elementary and secondary school to the college and career pipeline. This requires partnerships involving K-12, higher education, community organizations and business working toward a shared vision.
Across the country, more than 200 postsecondary leaders have together launched Higher Ed for Higher Standards, and the business community has mobilized as a willing partner in this coalition. This partnership in California embraces the state’s new Common Core standards and recognizes that achieving these standards requires the human capital that undergirds our children’s success.
We know we can succeed. California leads the nation in innovation. We are resourceful and we know how to get things done. Advances in technology have transformed our world every decade for the past 30 years and created entirely new opportunities for learning and collaboration. That transformation process will only speed up as today’s students navigate through school. So what can we do to equip them for success in a knowledge economy?
We must prepare our children to be experts in acquiring, handling and skillfully using information. With an emphasis on critical thinking, quantitative reasoning, writing, research, problem solving, communication and collaboration, the new Common Core standards are a powerful tool to systematically propel students through each phase of their education and into their career – prepared for the workforce of the future.
The standards provide an unprecedented opportunity to provide the kind of education we know our children need. The standards are sparking a renewed focus on ensuring that the next generation is ready for college, work and life. But the standards alone won’t equip our students to graduate from college and be career ready. That’s why we are working to ensure that the state’s educators are well prepared to teach these new standards, and business and industry assist them in taking advantage of promising new approaches to education.
We must re-invest in our educators – recruiting and preparing outstanding teachers and administrators; supporting them in their early years; and encouraging continued growth throughout careers of teaching, leading and learning. They need to be equipped to maximize the benefits of new learning tools, of new assessments that adapt to a variety of learner needs, and of new opportunities to re-invent the times and places where learning takes place.
We move forward toward our shared goal of supporting systemic change through the implementation of higher standards with the recognition that the educational community will need our support to help every child realize his or her potential. Working together, we can harness the talents of all our learners, who are invaluable assets to our communities. It’s up to us to provide the scaffolding: the support for our educators and the opportunities for our students.
Our kindergarteners, who are beginning their schooling journey, need us to ensure that when they walk across the graduation stage in 2027, it will be a journey we can all be proud of.
Gary L. Toebben is chief executive of the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce. Timothy P. White is chancellor of the California State University System.
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