Associated Industries of Massachusetts yesterday commended the state House of Representatives for passing an education funding bill that establishes accountability for school districts to prepare students for both college and the workforce.
“The job of sustaining Massachusetts’ global leadership in innovation belongs to everyone, and that requires a thoughtful, long-range plan to maintain our competitive advantage, including our education system. The foundation of such a plan is a set of educational standards, like those contained in House bill 4145, that ensures our students’ continued achievement via distinct criteria,” AIM President and Chief Executive Officer John Regan wrote in a letter to House Speaker Robert DeLeo and members of the House.
“Whether Massachusetts high school graduates choose a college track or enter the workforce directly upon graduation, if we do not remain vigilant and insist on relevant, high standards, we will fail to provide all our students with equal access to the economic advantages that follow educational achievement at all levels.”
The letter conveys the appreciation of AIM’s 3,500 member employers to Speaker DeLeo, House Education Chair Alice Peisch, and House Ways & Means Chair Aaron Michlewitz for legislation that aligns community needs with goals and outcome-based measurements.
The Massachusetts House voted unanimously on October 23 to pass a $1.5 billion education funding bill with measures allowing the state to hold school districts accountable for how they spend the money. A version of the reform passed by the state Senate removed some of those accountability measures and a conference committee is now trying to iron out the differences.
AIM’s member companies have become increasingly concerned that Massachusetts students are graduating from high school without the knowledge and skills they need to enter the workforce or to succeed in college.
At the same time, businesses report a persistent shortage of qualified candidates to fill open jobs, many of which pay high wages in growing industries. The skills shortage appears to be impeding economic growth and expansion - a MassBenchmarks report last week showed that the state economy contracted modestly during the third quarter because of workforce capacity limits.
Education matters to Massachusetts employers because it is where we shine as a state and have a competitive advantage over other states and countries.
The House education funding bill, AIM writes in its letter, would allow employers throughout Massachusetts “to hire tomorrow’s work force with confidence, knowing that these potential employees have received the best educational opportunities available.”