Lawmakers are returning to Raleigh this week which means your NC Chamber Government Affairs team is already hard at work on Jones Street. You may have seen that we recently announced our 2019 Legislative Agenda, which includes a number of key priorities dealing with education and North Carolina’s talent supply.
This list is certainly not exhaustive—we fully anticipate a number of issues to arise throughout the year that will affect the business community, and we’ll be ready to quickly analyze and respond.
In last week’s Executive Memo, Susan Gates, Chair of the Chamber’s Workforce Committee, shared her thoughts on these pieces of our legislative agenda exclusively with executives at our Cornerstone member companies. (If you aren’t yet a Cornerstone member or receiving the Executive Memo, contact our membership team for more information.)
Here’s what Susan had to say about our education & workforce priorities:
Career Relevance Matters
One of the Workforce Committee’s top priorities has always been ensuring that high school students are exposed to the variety of career opportunities and pathways available to them. But thinking about the future should not just be limited to a Career Day or job fairs. Instead, we should better prepare North Carolina’s students to become the skilled workers of tomorrow by aligning the actual needs of the business community with what is being taught in the classroom.
The NC Chamber supports North Carolina’s continued leadership on programs that allow high school students to take college courses through dual enrollment and early college high schools. There should be expanded opportunities in alignment with the needs of business. The NC Chamber will continue to amplify the great work of other organizations focused on these issues, like the myFutureNC Commission and the North Carolina Business Committee for Education.
The Chamber also plans to continue its work on preserving and strengthening academic standards that better prepare our students for a competitive workforce. The North Carolina State Board of Education is expected to revise science standards this year, so the Chamber will engage with stakeholders throughout that process.
Third-Grade Reading Proficiency Remains Key
Our high-quality NC Pre-K program is the cornerstone for achieving third-grade-reading proficiency, a critical education milestone to ensure future academic and career success. However, even with recent expansions, only 47% of eligible children in our state are enrolled. Just-released research from Duke University confirms that participation in NC Pre-K increases both reading and math proficiency and reduces placements in special education. That new research also confirms that these positive outcomes last through at least the 8th grade – a true testament to the high quality of our program. The NC Chamber joins a number of groups in North Carolina that will work during the 2019 legislative session to increase enrollment to 75% of eligible children, adding roughly 17,500 more children to the program over the coming years. We will have more news on this front later this month.
I look forward to working with you in the year ahead on these and other issues related to North Carolina’s education systems and talent supply. As always, please don’t hesitate to reach out with any thoughts or questions.
Gary J. Salamido
Chief Operating Officer and Acting President