The skills of amrican workforce

Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce Reconvenes To Address New Challenges

June 14th, 2006

Original Report Led to Policy Changes at All Levels of Education, Business, Economic Policy in the 1990s

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) announced that it has re-established the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce. The first bipartisan, blue-ribbon panel by that name issued the landmark 1990 report, “America’s Choice: high skills or low wages!,” which helped launch the standards movement in the United States and led to major state and Federal legislation.

The New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce will address the implications of how the dramatic changes in the U.S. and global economies that have occurred during the past decade have affected education in this country. While the original group concluded that America could continue to enjoy a high standard of living only if it abandoned low-skill work to low-cost countries, the United States is now being challenged by countries like China and India that are producing large numbers of highly educated people willing to work for relatively low wages. The new Commission was formed to consider how American education will have to change to prevent a decline in our standard of living in this situation. Members of the commission include former governors, senators, cabinet secretaries, business and labor leaders, civil rights leaders and education and job training experts.

“In a global economy where companies can get the highest skills at the lowest wages, the United States’ standard of living can be maintained only if we do a far better job of educating our citizens,” said Commission Chair Charles Knapp. “The Commission’s challenge is to figure out how to improve the performance of the American education system with little or no increase in cost. That is a formidable challenge, but we cannot afford to fail.”

“The fact that other nations are outperforming the United States in education is both a threat and an opportunity,” according to Marc Tucker, Commission Vice-Chairman and Staff Director. “The threat is the real possibility of a significant decline in our standard of living. The opportunity is the chance to learn from them by studying the world’s most effective education systems, gleaning the lessons we need to exceed their performance.”

The Commission’s work, which is being funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, will conclude with a final report in the next six months.

Following the 1990 release of the original report “America’s Choice: high skills or low wages!,” the Clinton and (first) Bush Administrations, Congress and several state governments adopted a series of measures that implemented nearly all its major recommendations.

A complete list of the members of the new Commission is attached.

The New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce

Chair Charles Knapp, Director of Education

Development, CF Foundation

Former President, University of Georgia

Former President, Aspen Institute

*Vice Chair Marc Tucker, President, National Center on Education and the Economy

Morton Bahr, President Emeritus, Communications Workers of America

*William Brock, Chairman, Bridges Learning Systems, Inc.

Former Secretary of Labor, Reagan Administration

Former Trade Representative, Reagan Administration

Former Senator, Tennessee

Judy Codding, President and CEO, America’s Choice, Inc.

Former prize-winning high school principal

Michael Dolan, Executive Vice President and

Chief Financial Officer, Viacom

Former Chairman and CEO, Young and Rubicam

David Driscoll, Massachusetts Commissioner of Education

Paul Elsner, President, Paul Elsner Associates

Former President, Maricopa Community College System

John Engler, President, National Association of Manufacturers

Former Governor, Michigan

Steve Gunderson, President and CEO,

Council on Foundations

Former Member of Congress, Wisconsin

Clifford Janey, Superintendent, District of Columbia Public Schools

Sharon Lynn Kagan, Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Early Childhood and Family Policy and Co-Director of the National Center for Children and Families, Teachers College, Columbia University

Joel Klein, Chancellor, New York City Public Schools

Former Chairman and CEO, Bertelsmann, Inc.

Dal Lawrence, Former President, Toledo Federation of Teachers

*Ray Marshall, Audre and Bernard Rapoport Centennial Chair in Economics and Public Affairs, L.B.J. School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin Former Secretary of Labor, Carter Administration

Marc Morial, President and CEO, National Urban League

Former Mayor, New Orleans

Beverly O’Neill, Mayor, Long Beach, California

Roderick Paige, Chairman, Chartwell Education Group LLC

Former Secretary of Education, George W. Bush Administration

Thomas Payzant, Superintendent, Boston Public Schools

Former Assistant Secretary of Elementary and Secondary Education, Clinton Administration

Charles Reed, Chancellor, California State University System

Richard Riley, Partner, Nelson, Mullins,

Riley and Scarborough, LLP

Former Secretary of Education, Clinton Administration

Henry Schacht, Managing Director and Senior Advisor,

Warburg Pincus LLC

Former Chairman and CEO, Lucent Technologies

Susan Sclafani, Managing Director,

Chartwell Education Group LLC

Former Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education, George W. Bush Administration

Harry Spence, Commissioner, Massachusetts Department of Social Services

Sara Martinez Tucker, President and CEO,

Hispanic Scholarship Fund

William Wiggenhorn, President, Consulting Services,

Educational Development Associates

Former Chief Learning Officer, Motorola and Cigna

*=served on original commission

CONTACT: For media inquiries contact Jessica Love at or call (202) 667-0901.