Perhaps no group depends upon the product of our public education system more than Alabama’s businesses and industries. Business depends upon a qualified and well-educated workforce in order to fill the 21st Century jobs that Alabama is attracting, but, in many areas of the state, schools are in need of that improvement.
Rather than working to divide business and education by promoting fear and waging campaigns of misinformation, the Business Education Alliance (BEA) works to unite the two so that students and parents are better served, our economy is improved, and Alabama employers are guaranteed the trained and effective workforce they need in order to remain here.
Our message is a simple one: “Alabama cannot succeed economically without also succeeding in the classroom.”
BEA was created to stimulate the thoughtful study and constructive discussion of key policy issues facing Alabama. Our goal is to jumpstart solutions to the problems that face us by promoting interactions between the public and private sectors. We believe that combining the workforce needs of business with the best and most innovative ideas in public education will result in Alabama becoming a national leader in both economic development and student achievement.
During the past decade, Alabama has experienced encouraging results in public education and job creation, but those results have not been consistent or uniform across the state.
Rockets and the International Space Station have their roots in Alabama, and commercial airplanes will soon be made here. A variety of automobile manufacturers and suppliers employ thousands of Alabamians at highly attractive wages, and medical and biotech firms are making life-changing breakthroughs here in Alabama. Some areas of the state, however, remain mired in poverty with few economic development prospects and even fewer assets needed to attract them.
At the same time, while our 4th graders’ reading levels are near the national average, they are below average in math, and Alabama’s 8th graders are below average in both categories. Our graduation rates have improved, but they, too, are below the national average. A 2013 study by the Alliance for Excellent Education determined that reducing Alabama’s dropout rate by half would save $69 million annually in our Medicaid costs.
In other words, if Alabama is going to continue recruiting the jobs of tomorrow, we must work to improve our public education system today.
BEA will bring likeminded people from the business and education communities together to sometimes boldly forge a new direction for our state and to sometimes simply remain committed to a plan that yields the results we want and need, even though they may not materialize overnight.
We will provide accurate and unbiased information to leaders in both the public and private sectors so they can better determine and implement the public policy that is best for our state.
And rather than seeking to divide and separate interests, BEA will be both pro-business and pro-education because, in the end, both communities have a shared goal – propelling Alabama into a position of national and international leadership in economic development and education excellence.