The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce, alongside the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education (MBAE) and over 100 business and community leaders from across the Commonwealth, signed a letter to Governor Baker, Senate President Spilka and House Speaker DeLeo earlier this month. Seeking a legislative solution to the state’s longstanding achievement, opportunity, and skills gaps; the letter calls for any new funding to be used effectively and efficiently and for steps to be taken to establish career pathways within our schools.
Education reform has become an increasingly contentious issue on Beacon Hill in recent years. A 2015 review of the Commonwealth’s 30 year old school funding formula found it had failed to adapt to the changing needs of the state’s school districts and frequently underfunded those facing the greatest challenges. The Chamber has long identified education as a key regional and state issue. In recent years, employers have complained of challenges finding, training, and retaining qualified talent- especially in the manufacturing sector. This has placed considerable pressure on these employers and led to concerns regarding missed opportunities for the region’s students.
To address this, the Chamber established a taskforce consisting of regional employers and worked to identify solutions. The result, which also drew input from area educators, was a report published this year entitled “Build North Central: Promoting the Industrial Heart of Massachusetts”. This report contains both programmatic and policy recommendations and is intended to serve as a toolkit which policy makers and educators can both draw from, shaping the discourse in the process. These recommendations align closely with MBAE’s mission to ensure that “EVERY student graduates high school prepared for success in college and career” and led to the Chamber’s involvement in their advocacy efforts.
“We hope to see reforms which better align curriculums with workforce needs and expose students to diverse career opportunities,” explained Roy Nascimento, the Chamber’s President and CEO “Integrating meaningful reforms will help to strengthen our education systems for the benefit of both our students and employers.”
“Simply putting more money into a system that is failing far too many young people would be reckless,” said Edward Lambert, Jr., Executive Director of the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, one of the lead organizations behind the letter and a partner of The North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce. “Crossing our fingers and hoping to get better results is not a strategy. We’re hearing from folks all across the state who want to ensure that new funding closes achievement and skills gaps and who agree money alone won’t accomplish those goals.”
Shortly after the letter was published, the Chamber testified alongside MBAE before the Joint Committee for Education at the State House. This testimony drew from Build North Central and placed a strong emphasis on aligning the state’s school systems with workforce needs. “We strongly believe all students should have access to work-based learning which, provided alongside rigorous college-level coursework, has proven to be effective in preparing students for success academically and in the workforce” stated Christopher McDermott, the Chamber’s public affairs manager. “Programs such as internships, co-ops, apprenticeships strengthen the educational experience, help our schools engage local employers, and provide meaningful introductions to career opportunities.”
Click here to read the Chamber’s testimony before the Legislative Committee on Education
Click here to read the letter the Governor, Senate President and Speaker of the House
For more information, Please contact Christopher McDermott, Public Affairs Manager at 978.353.7600 ext. 224 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.