The skills of amrican workforce

State Implementation

Consortium of States Implementing “Tough Choices or Tough Times”
‘Tough Choices’ Education Coalition Grows with Three Additional States Pledged to Reinvent Their Education Systems

Six States Now Committed to Rigorous Reform Agenda

On March 10th, Arizona, Delaware and New Mexico declared their commitment to the most dramatic overhaul of education in at least 100 years in their proclamation to implement the Tough Choices or Tough Times education reform framework. Late last year Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Utah became the initial states to announce their commitment to implementing recommendations of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce (

The decision by the governors of Arizona, Delaware, and New Mexico to join the consortium of states is a significant response to the global economic slowdown. This major redesign of their states’ education systems is intended to help students succeed both in school and the workforce.

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“Education is the most critical investment a society can make in its future. We are ready to work with NCEE over the next year to help ensure that we get the greatest return for that investment. No single person has all the answers to the critical questions facing our education future. By joining this consortium we will gain greater access to outside experts committed to making the most of public education. We can leverage what has worked around the country to make the most of our own reforms.” – Jack Markell, Governor, Delaware

Delaware State Governors Office
Delaware Department of Education


“I support ‘Tough Choices or Tough Times’ because its goals align with a number of our initiatives and accomplishments.” – Tom Horne, Superintendent of Public Instruction, Arizona

Arizona Department of Education
Center for the Future of Arizona

New Mexico

“The bold education initiatives we’ve enacted in New Mexico over the last six years are taking root, but we can’t afford to stop seeking out new ideas when it comes to ensuring our students get the best education possible. The innovative initiatives in ‘Tough Choices’ are worth exploring as we develop an educational system that prepares our children for the evolving demands of the 21st century workforce.” – Bill Richardson, Governor, New Mexico

New Mexico State Governors Office
New Mexico Public Education Department


“Massachusetts is committed to building a more robust education system for our students starting at the pre-kindergarten level and extending through college. The Readiness Project will address the individual needs of students and provide them with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in the 21st century global economy.” — Deval L. Patrick, Governor, Massachusetts

“We are excited to become part of the ‘Tough Choices or Tough Times’ consortium which will enable us to engage in a national conversation with other state leaders who are committed to transforming public education to meet the 21st century needs of our students. We are particularly eager to identify policies, practices and resources that will assist us in implementing our ‘Readiness’ agenda and thereby transform our education system to make it truly competitive with the best education systems in the world.” — Paul Reville, Secretary of Education, Executive Office of Education, Massachusetts
“On behalf of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, I support the requests of Governor Deval Patrick and Secretary of Education Paul Reville to join the consortium of states assembling to work on implementing the education reform framework in your landmark report, ‘Tough Choices or Tough Times’.” — Alan Macdonald, Executive Director, Massachusetts Business Roundtable

Massachusetts State Governors Office
Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education

New Hampshire

“In collaboration with Governor John Lynch and the State Board of Education, I am formally requesting New Hampshire be considered for inclusion in the consortium of states that you are developing. Now is the time to further our work to personalize education in partnership with the work defined in ‘Touch Choices or Tough Times.’ Our first step will be to develop a Board Examination system for New Hampshire. New Hampshire’s P–16 working group has authorized an investigation of possible testing programs aligned to syllabi set to international standards.” — Lyonel B. Tracy, Commissioner of Education, New Hampshire

“We are pleased to be a major partner in the state’s P-16 working group and very much support the inclusion of New Hampshire as a state with which the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce will assist to achieve new policies and goals to make students college ready.” — Stephen J. Reno, Chancellor, University of New Hampshire

“New Hampshire’s economy rests on the quality of its schools, colleges and universities to prepare a workforce with 21st century skills. I believe that New Hampshire is well situated and eager to move forward in this direction that will ultimately enable us to ensure that the vast number of New Hampshire students will be college ready without remediation by about 16 years of age.” — Lou D’ Allesandro, State Senator, New Hampshire

“The current economy in New Hampshire and in particular, our local community, are forcing us to look at alternative ways to meet the educational needs of our students while at the same time, meeting the needs of the community… Your work and the conclusions in ‘Tough Choices or Tough Times’ present exciting opportunities to be explored.” — Brian J. Blake, Ed.D, Superintendent of Schools, Hopkinton School District, New Hampshire

“The work of the New Commission on the Skills of the American outlines the type of thinking in which we must engage for our children’s benefit.”
— Michael W. Delahanty, Superintendent of Schools, Salem School District, New Hampshire

New Hampshire State Governors Office
New Hampshire Department of Education


View Governors Huntsman’s statement on Tough Choices or Tough Times

“We are embarking on an important journey — one that will have positive consequences for our states and our country. I say this with confidence because the Commission’s report, ‘Tough Choices or Tough Times,’ helped us in Utah to identify areas of improvement in preparing and training our workforce. Now, the choice is ours. Do we stand in place—and fall behind—or do we put our own plan into action?” — Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., Governor, Utah

“We are very impressed with the recommendations put forth in ‘Tough Choices or Tough Times.’ I am excited for Utah to participate in this program and am ready to help in whatever way I can.” — David L. Buhler, Interim Commissioner of Higher Education, Utah

“As pointed out in your report, ‘Tough Choices or Tough Times,’ the United States faces serious consequences if we, as a nation, do not find better ways to develop the workforce of tomorrow. The states, as the ‘laboratories of democracy,’ are the best place for innovation. We should be willing participants in such an effort.” — Greg J. Curtis, Speaker of the House, Utah House of Representatives

“I have read the Commission’s recommendations put forth in ‘Tough Choices or Tough Times,’ and I am committed to help implement those recommendations in Utah. We will work closely with the Governor to provide the necessary tools to make this program succeed. Education has always been a priority for Senate leadership, and this program will be an important step for Utah and for the Nation.” — John L. Valentine, President, Utah State Senate

Utah State Governors Office
Utah State Office of Education

National Education Association

John Wilson, Executive Director of the National Education Association, encouraged his state affiliates to explore the opportunities that exist for improving teaching and learning laid out in “Tough Choices or Tough Times.”

View John Wilson ‘s statement on Tough Choices or Tough Times