This is a guest column written by Heather Briccetti, president and CEO of the business council of New York State.

The Ithaca Voice also published a column on the issue by Kathy Zahler, who runs the blog “Dryden Daily Kaz.” 

Briccetti’s column:

Raising academic standards for students in the U.S. is imperative to fostering college and career readiness and to keep our nation globally competitive. Employers in New York and across the nation are having difficulty finding skilled workers to fill open positions, not only in terms of technical and academic skills, but also in soft skills.

According to a 2011 report sponsored by Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, as many as 600,000 U.S. manufacturing jobs went unfilled because employers were unable to find workers with the right skills.

Between 1995 and 2009, U.S. student performance on math, science, and reading assessments increased at a “middling” rate; while approximately 24 countries improved at a faster rate, according to a 2012 Harvard Program on Education study. Further, the study concluded that students in countries such as Colombia, Poland, Portugal, Germany, and Lithuania improved at twice the rate of students in the U.S.

For these reasons, The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers with input from parents, teachers, school administrators, and education experts. The CCSS provide consistent guidelines for what students should know at each grade level; they are not a curriculum or an assessment.

Forty-three states including New York have adopted the CCSS. The Business Council of New York State, Inc. strongly supports the higher academic standards of the Common Core because our members demand an education system that can close the skills gap.

By the state’s own measure, just 35 percent of students who graduate high school are ready for college, postsecondary training, or the workforce. Additionally — according to the State University of New York — community colleges in New York spend more than $70 million per year on remediation.

Despite the clear need for more rigorous education standards in New York, the implementation of CCSS in the state has been fraught with misinformation regarding teacher evaluations, data privacy, and standardized testing.

To clarify the facts from the myths, the Business Council has prepared a fact sheet called Workforce Readiness and the Common Core: Fact vs. Fiction.

A world class education system is critical to the future of our state and our nation. The CCSS represent a tremendous opportunity to equip students with the tools they need to be successful in the 21st century economy. Let’s not allow misinformation to derail this opportunity.

Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.