I-Squared is common sense immigration reform, meets nation's needs

Ever since the Virginia Company was founded in Jamestown in 1607, America has been the land of opportunity for generations of immigrants, who often risked everything to strive for their American Dream. America must continue to be a magnet for the best minds in the world to come here for the freedom to compete, innovate and grow our economy.

A recent survey of over 1,100 manufacturing executives by the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte shows that 67 percent of manufacturing companies face a “moderate to severe” shortage of qualified workers. Four major high-tech companies – IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle – say they have a combined 10,000 job openings in the United States alone. In Congressional testimony, Rick Stephens, senior vice president at Boeing, related that fewer than 5 percent of graduates from American colleges and universities attain engineering degrees, compared with about 20 percent in Asia.


Bill would ease debt burden on students

“Work hard. Earn good grades. Make it to college.”

From the time students enter elementary school, they hear this simple formula for earning a steady income and meaningful work.

Yet, for millions of young Americans, this formula increasingly leads to limited opportunity and mountains of debt. With student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion and unemployment rates for recent graduates lingering near painful post-2008 heights, student debt has become a serious burden on our national economy and on young lives.


H1-B visa program has a gender gap problem

Can our country be competitive without skilled technology workers?  Can we sustain our technical creativity without individuals who are trained in the technical areas? The reply to such questions is always a resounding "No!" And when we ask if all possible workers are included, the answer is also "No!"

The status of women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) is important for the economic, social, entrepreneurial and political advantage of the United States.


Stepping up STEM programs in our schools will make us more competitive

Creative, out-of-the-box thinking and collaborative problem-solving are concepts synonymous with Silicon Valley. They are attributes that power our industry, motivate our work ethic and define our can-do spirit. Ironically, these skills are often missing when it comes to educational policies and mandates imposed on our local public schools. The result: It is not perceived as a priority for the future workforce of America.
We hear time and again from our local business and community leaders that local jobs go unfilled by local talent because they can't find people with the required education and skills to perform these duties. These jobs run across the spectrum: from technicians with a trade school certificate to engineers with a master's degree.
That is why we've been pushing an agenda based on teaching science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM.
We believe that students in our local schools, who have been exposed to a rich diet of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, will have the foundational knowledge and skills to flourish in the classroom and beyond.


Students play waiting game while Congress catches up on student loan debacle

This summer, millions of students might see the interest rate double on their student loans unless Congress takes action. Doubling of the interest rate will cost the average college student about $1,000 more per year of school.
Think you’re having déjà vu? Last summer, Congress narrowly stopped interest rates from doubling. One year later, here we are facing the same crisis. This time around, students and taxpayers need a strong long-term solution that makes the student loan system more effective and affordable for students and families.


Overhaul 'No Child Left Behind' now

It’s widely recognized that the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) has seriously failed to achieve its goal of raising virtually all public school students, especially the disadvantaged, to academic proficiency. The Obama administration, responding to widespread opposition to key NCLB accountability mandates, has now waived them for most states. But to qualify for waivers, states must agree to implement the administration’s requirements instead.


Be wary of for-profit colleges' charm offensive

This week, members of the Association for Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) are visiting Capitol Hill, hoping to put a good face on the for-profit college industry. No doubt APSCU leaders are touting the academic and vocational courses they offer and the successes of their students. They are probably plugging the special programs created for active-duty military, veterans and their families.
However, there are many facts they don’t bother telling Congress. Among them: taxpayers spend twice as much to send a veteran to a for-profit college than they do to a public or non-profit college. For-profit colleges have collected nearly one-third of all Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits ($1.6 billion). And, many for-profit schools’ earnings continue to come almost entirely from federal funds.


New budget cuts will short-change public schools

My former California Assembly colleague, Tom Torlakson, hit the mark in his letter to House and Senate Congressional leadership this week: struggling families and children will bear the heavy load of sequester burden. All students in California schools and especially those who are living in poverty will feel its effects. It seems absurd to me that we would short-change our public schools and the programs that target underserved youth. We live in one of the most prosperous countries in the developing world and yet we fund schools so poorly. The sequester will further diminish school funding in addition to negatively affecting the economy.


Career colleges promise transparency, accuracy to veterans

Our bravest citizens wear our nation’s uniform and enlist in the Armed Services. They face many harsh realities both at home and abroad, making sacrifices for the good of our nation – and they ask nothing in return. Disproportionately, they suffer the consequences of a stagnant economy, which has made finding high-quality jobs difficult.
I believe we can and must do better; therefore, several months ago, the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities (APSCU) convened a Blue Ribbon Taskforce to ensure that every service member, veteran and family member utilizing their earned, postsecondary education benefits are provided with the quality education to which they are entitled at every institution of higher education. 


US must bring STEM education up to par with overseas competitors

When it comes to math and science the United States needs to do its homework. Currently, less than one-third of eighth graders in the U.S. are proficient in science and mathematics and only nine states allow computer science courses to count towards graduation requirements.
These statistics are a stark reminder that while the U.S. is a global superpower in every definition, our country’s leaders and educators can’t sit on the sidelines when it comes to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related fields.