The skills of amrican workforce

Statements of Support

  • “While Tough Choices or Tough Times does a tremendous job in identifying and articulating the challenges we face, what truly sets it apart is the specific and highly innovative policy prescriptions it advocates to reverse the “education deficit” that threatens our nation’s present and future prosperity. I encourage every policymaker, at every level, to read this compelling and comprehensive report.”—William E. Kirwan, Chancellor, University System of Maryland

    “Tough Choices or Tough Times is must reading for policymakers, educators, businesspeople, and citizens who want America to be prosperous and competitive in the 21st century. The report pulls no punches about the economic threats facing our country unless we fortify the education of our future workforce. The Commission advances thought-provoking recommendations that should stimulate debate and then galvanize every sector of society—from employers and elected officials to educators, parents, and communities—to muster the will to ensure that America’s workforce is the best educated and prepared in the world so that our way of life remains the envy of the world.”—Hugh Price, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution, and Former President, National Urban League

    “Tough Choices or Tough Times provides a bold and specific road map for transforming all levels of education—preschool through postsecondary education—to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing global economy. It calls for massive fundamental change in education structure, curriculum, teacher compensation, and assessment, as well as in the roles of virtually all our education institutions.”—Mike Kirst, Professor of Education Emeritus, Stanford University

    “The steps proposed in Tough Choices or Tough Times will move us dramatically forward, fostering a 21st-century skills development pipeline that meets the needs of working adults, and enables them to engage in the lifelong learning necessary to meet the changing demands of the workplace.”—Marlene Seltzer, President and CEO, Jobs for the Future

    “The Commission provides a 21st century formula for workforce development: think regional, eliminate structures that no longer serve our needs, and create universal access to quality education and training.”—Joseph Carbone, President and CEO, The WorkPlace, Inc., Southwestern Connecticut’s Workforce Development Board

    “Efforts at bringing together the three integral components of a successful workforce investment system—education, training, and economic development—have been haphazard at best. The recommendation in the Commission report to encourage the creation of high level jobs/skills/economic growth authorities with the ability to issue tax exempt bonds holds real promise for the development of a rational, sustainable, and politically supportable system.”—Marion Pines, Director, Sar Levitan Center, Johns Hopkins University

    “Anyone who hopes to hold a job in the next several decades should read—if not memorize—this extraordinary report. Hopefully the efforts of the distinguished group that prepared the report will motivate our nation’s leaders to promptly take the steps needed to assure that our nation’s citizenry can enjoy a decent quality of life in the years ahead.”—Norman R. Augustine, Retired Chairman and CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and Chairman, The National Academies’ Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century

    “Tough Choices or Tough Times is an exciting vision of a reformed and revitalized American education system. It has many important ideas that should generate considerable debate and are worthy of serious consideration.”—Susan Fuhrman, President, Teachers College, Columbia University

    “Tough Choices or Tough Times calls into question whether we are willing to invest in the future of America’s workforce.”—Bob Giloth, Director, Family Economic Success, Annie E. Casey Foundation

    “This penetrating, scary analysis and these astute, far-reaching recommendations amount to A Nation at Risk for the next generation, a brave, clear call for top-to-bottom reforms in U.S. education. While overturning plenty of creaky applecarts, Tough Choices sketches a bold and efficient new vehicle for equipping 21st century Americans with the skills and knowledge they will need—and that the nation needs.”—Chester E. Finn Jr., Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and President, Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

    “The report by the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce joins a chorus of voices warning us of the looming consequences facing our nation because of the poor level of preparation of students and members of the workforce. What is different is that this report recommends bold steps for action. To do any less will result only in more half-measures that over time have had too little effect and have left us vulnerable as we face growing competition in a changed world economy.”—G. Wayne Clough, President, Georgia Tech, and Vice Chairman, U.S. Council on Competitiveness

    “This is a remarkably bold and refreshing report. It is time for us to stop tinkering at the edges of the educational enterprise. What I find most appealing about the Commission’s recommendations is that it represents a total overhaul of how we do the business of education. The Commission is telling us that we need to stop rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, reinvest the resources we have, and turn the ship in a new direction.”—James W. Pellegrino, Distinguished Professor of Cognitive Psychology and Education, University of Illinois at Chicago

    “The current public education system at the K–12 level is broken. Can it be fixed? This report says no, it has to be replaced. This is more than a wake-up call. It is a call to arms. The reasons to be alarmed are clearly and persuasively documented. Out-of-the-box, stretch recommendations are offered.”—Albert J. Simone, President, Rochester Institute of Technology

    “Tough Choices or Tough Times analyzes America’s looming education and skills deficit and the potentially disastrous consequences for individual Americans and for our national competitiveness and standard of living. But this Commission offers no simple panaceas. This is the first set of ideas I have seen that matches the scale, complexity and depth of the problems we face.” —Patrick Callan, President, National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

    From the Commissioners

    “The question this report raises is whether our country has the kind of education system that is needed to maintain America’s standard of living for our children, our grandchildren, and future generations. I very much hope that it will spark the kind of tough, honest debate on that topic that it so richly deserves.”—Richard W. Riley, Former Secretary of Education, Clinton Administration

    “Bold, inventive, analytic, and piercing, the report’s recommendations stand to make a huge difference in how America thinks about and enacts its educational enterprise for all—including its youngest—students.”—Sharon Lynn Kagan, Virginia & Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy, Teachers College, Columbia University, and Co-Director, The National Center for Children and Families

    “This report deals with the critical issue of training and educating the current workforce to meet the competitive challenges of the future and indicates the depth of the changes our nation needs to make to change our culture to one of life-long learning.”—Morton Bahr, President Emeritus, Communications Workers of America

    “This report offers a radical new blueprint for making America’s K–12 educational experience more meaningful and effective. It’s a fascinating and thought-provoking read that is sure to get the American educational establishment talking.”—Charles B. Reed, Chancellor, California State University System

    “This report shows how states and professional educators can create efficient, high-performance school systems to educate all students to high standards.”—Ray Marshall, Former Secretary of Labor, Carter Administration

    “A thorough, thoughtful, and timely study. Most important, it goes far beyond the normal conclusions. The recommendations are sweeping and controversial but must be considered seriously as they flow directly from the logic of the study. If not these, what then?”—Henry B. Schacht, Managing Director, Warburg Pincus LLC

    “Piecemeal reform of public education in America is insufficient to deliver on the promise that every child will receive an education that leads to a good job, productive life, and responsible citizenship. The New Commission Report is a coherent, comprehensive, systemic plan for how to align public policy, allocation of resources, and changes in practice to enable public education in America to be the best in the world.”—Thomas W. Payzant, Former Superintendent, Boston Public Schools

    “It is my hope that the report will be heeded at the highest policy levels in every local community. What is at stake for our nation and every citizen is nothing less than the prospect of a plummeting standard of living for our children and American generations to come if we fail to act.”—Paul A. Elsner, Former President, Maricopa Community College System

    “This may be a policy report, but it should be read by every practitioner. Brutally honest, it shows why money alone cannot get all our students ready for college and lays out bold and imaginative solutions to the problems that educators deal with every day, solutions that will take courage to implement, but that are at the same time realistic and practical.”—Judy B. Codding, President, America’s Choice, Inc.

    “I become more concerned each day that our students are falling further behind and the people of this nation do not seem to be alarmed. This report lays out the kind of drastic change to the system that is crucial if we are to remain a viable economic and political leader in the world.”—David P. Driscoll, Commissioner of Education, Massachusetts

    “This proposal is radical? Yes. Hard to achieve? Of course. Essential? Absolutely. Our nation’s schools are failing to educate our children, and that has to stop—else we condemn our own kids to ever lower incomes. We must act—now!”—William E. Brock, Former Secretary of Labor, Reagan Administration

    “Being a member of this Commission was exciting and enlightening. I emerged convinced that there is an urgent need for precisely the kind of national discussion—probing and thoughtful—that we had and that this report is intended to provoke. It is essential that these recommendations get a full and fair hearing.”—Beverly O’Neill, Former Mayor, Long Beach, California

    “Americans like to win but in the global race for talent and skills we will not win if we don’t change how we prepare our young people. This provocative report challenges all of us to act now. Learn why merely “getting by” isn’t good enough in a world where entire nations are working harder and studying longer in order to enjoy what many Americans have come to take for granted. The question is: Are there states or communities with the confidence and the courage to act before it is too late? In 1983, we were A Nation at Risk. Twenty-three years later, in 2006, the risk is even greater. It is getting late. For the sake of our children and our future, read this report and get to work.”—John Engler, President, National Association of Manufacturers

    “I commend the Commission for a report that presents bold and promising proposals to deal with the issues that our nation and its workforce will face in the 21st century”—Joel I. Klein, Chancellor, New York City Public Schools

    “The strength of this report is its recognition that neither today’s education system, nor its workforce investment system are adequately addressing our nation’s needs.”—Steve Gunderson, President and CEO, Council on Foundations