Schools Must Be Designed to Prepare Students for the 21st Century (Sen. Mike Enzi)

America’s middle and high schools must do more to prepare America’s students to enter post-secondary education and the workplace with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed.

Simply graduating students is not sufficient, because a high school diploma today is no guarantee that a student has learned the basics.  Nearly half of all college students are required to take remedial courses on subjects they should have learned in high school before they can begin college level coursework.  This contributes to the rising costs of college, prevents students from graduating on time, and deters many students, particularly low-income and minority students, from ever earning a degree.

Congress must use the renewal process of the No Child Left Behind Act to address the alarming dropout rates across the country.  Every day, 7,000 students drop out of school, and unless high schools are able to graduate their students at higher rates than the 68 to 70 percent they currently do, more than 12 million students will drop out during the next decade.

To remain competitive in a global economy, we must ensure that all Americans have the education and training they need to be successful.  We need a plan.  We need to ensure opportunities are available to all Americans, because our future depends on widely available and extensive knowledge and training and a commitment to excellence.

The decisions we make about education and workforce development will have a dramatic effect on the economy and our society for a long time to come.  For America to retain its competitive edge in the global economy, we need to find ways to encourage high school students to stay in school and prepare for and enter high-skill fields, like math, science, engineering, health, technology, and foreign languages.

In the HELP Committee, we are working to strengthen America’s education and training pipeline.  Through the reauthorization of the Head Start Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, the Higher Education Act, and the Workforce Investment Act, we can make sure that every individual has access to a lifetime of education and training opportunities that provide the knowledge and skills they need to be successful and that our employers need to remain competitive.

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