Case For Action

The rapidly-changing, information- and technology-based workplace of the 21st century requires a well-educated, highly-skilled workforce. An estimated $17 billion per year is spent to train recent high school graduates in the basic skills they should have gained in school and the economic loss in productivity from high school graduates who require remediation in reading and math in college is estimated to be approximately $2.3 billion each year.  International assessments show that American students are falling farther behind their counterparts in developing countries. And America faces a significant shortage of innovation workers – those college graduates with strong technical skills and creative minds.


“At their core, the most important 21st-century skills that foster success are really no different than the most important 20th-century skills: the ability to communicate, connect, create, and collaborate to solve problems-quickly, easily, clearly. The difference comes in the use of 21st-century tools and technology to facilitate those skills. The evolving technology that allows achievement and success must be present in the classrooms to engage and educate students—of any age—because they are omnipresent everywhere else in our society.” 21 Definitions for a 21st-Century Education , September 2010


Put simply, America’s public schools have not kept pace. States and school districts are not challenging all high school students to learn the skills and knowledge that will enable them to succeed in technical training, college or careers. It's critical that businesses of all sizes and industries step up to help bring public schools up to speed in the 21st century.

This Web site can help. Download fact sheets with the benefits to business of investing in Texas and America’s public schools.


The Texas Scholars home page includes education facts that highlight the emerging problems facing Texas and America's schools and workforce in the new global knowledge-based economy.

• 30 percent of high school students – and nearly 50 percent of black and Latino students – fail to earn a diploma within four years. The Manhattan Institute, 2006

• The U.S. loses $2.3 billion a year in lost productivity from high school graduates who require remediation in reading and math in college and the workplace. The Alliance for Excellent Education, 2006

• The U.S. spends over $12,000 per public school student each year – twice the international average – and yet only produces a high school graduation rate of 70%. Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 2006

• Only fourteen states require all high school students to complete a high school curriculum that will prepare all graduates for work and college. Achieve, Inc., 2007

• 58% of high school graduates say high school did not fully prepare them for work. Achieve, Inc., 2005

• Over 80% of employers say they experience difficulties hiring qualified workers; only half are satisfied with the skills of their current employees. National Association of Manufacturers, 2005

• Among fifteen year olds in 2003, 23 out of 38 competitor countries outscored the U.S. on math literacy and 25 countries outscored the U.S. on problem solving. Program of International Student Assessment (PISA), 2003

• Only 20% of 12th-graders scored at or above proficient on the National Assessment of Educational Progress science test in 2005. National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), 2005

• In the next five years, demand for scientists and engineers will increase at least 70% faster than the overall growth rate for all occupations in the U.S. National Science Foundation, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2006

• About 60,000 students earn bachelor's degrees in engineering in the U.S. and South Korea each year, even though South Korea's population is only one-sixth the size of the U.S. population. National Science Foundation, Science & Engineering Indicators, 2006; CIA World Factbook, 2006

In 1950 (when the U.S. economy was largely driven by manufacturing and assembly line workers) only about 20% of jobs required a skilled or educated worker. Today, with knowledge as the backbone of our information-based economy, more than 60% of jobs require advanced skills training or education. And not surprisingly, it is expected that the fastest growing jobs in the coming decade will require a college level degree or higher.

As a result, more Americans than ever need a college degree and are seeking access to higher education in order to remain competitive and advance in their careers. However, despite the shift in educational requirements for jobs over the years, currently only 35% of American workers over the age of 25 have achieved a four-year degree. There are approximately 132 million Americans in the U.S. labor force over the age of 25, of whom over 80 million do not have a bachelor’s degree. What’s worse, 50 million Americans have never started college and more than 30 million have never completed their degree.  According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report, the U.S. has lost its number one competitive ranking in the world.