Governor John Engler
There are serious issues the next administration in Washington will have to tackle if the U.S. economy is going to add jobs and return to normal levels of growth. The rub, of course, is that how candidates – and the interest groups that support them – want to create jobs and achieve economic growth can be very different. According to Business Roundtable president and former Michigan governor, John Engler, part of the problem is that “our side” (the business community) has traditionally been late getting into the game. Ignoring the political process, he says, “is something CEOs do at their own risk.”
“Higher education is critical for the health and prosperity of our Minnesota communities.” The Itasca Project – an employer-led civic alliance that the Partnership has worked closely with in the past – recently completed a report titled “Higher Education Partnerships for Prosperity” (link here).
Much of the report details how, once students enter the state’s higher ed system, we can better ensure that they are getting the skills they need to compete for jobs in the 21st century. One of the failings that the report identifies – and an issue that the Partnership has focused on over the past several years – is the fact that 40% of the students entering college are unprepared for their coursework. The remediation that takes place (the re-teaching of basic skills that should have been completed in high school), costs millions of dollars and wastes time – burdening student and teacher alike.
Improving Minnesota’s K-12 system is not only important in its own right, but will have long term benefits to our state’s higher ed system as well. We need both systems to function effectively and efficiently if Minnesota is going to successfully compete for jobs in the future.
Eric Mahmoud’s record as executive director of Harvest Prep and Best Academy in North Minneapolis is proof that academic achievement has nothing to do with skin color, poverty or ZIP codes. Mahmoud’s schools – which he and his wife started in their home in 1985 and which now serve 1,000 kids – gained attention last year when their students out-performed students in the Edina and Wayzata school districts. Mahmoud’s strategy – addressing five key education gaps in preparation, time, belief, teaching and leadership – has produced the only school in North Minneapolis to meet its adequate yearly progress goal.