How Can Small Business Help Improve Education?


Allan Golston shares his thoughts on how the business community can support education.

This week, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted the annual America’s Small Business Summit in DC where more than 800 business owners all across the country came together to network, learn, and hear from business and policy experts discuss critical issues affecting the small business community.

One of the issues that’s becoming more concerning, not just for large corporations but for small businesses as well, is the lack of talent. In fact, a recent study by Babson College found the number one challenge small business owners face is finding qualified applicants with the appropriate skills. And it’s no secret that our K-12 education system is where workers begin to develop these skills. Unfortunately, our education system isn’t doing a good job of preparing students with the skills needed for success after high school.

A recent report by The Education Trust found 47 percent of high school graduates didn’t complete a college or career-ready course of study. Remarkably, only 8 percent of high school graduates completed a full college- and career-prep curriculum. Just 25 percent of Hispanic students and 12 percent of African American students are ready to go to college when they graduate high school. It’s no wonder the business community is feeling the effects of an idle K-12 system.

To shed some insight on this, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation Senior Vice President Cheryl Oldham sat down with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Allan Golston at the Small Business Summit. Allan provides his thoughts on ways the business community can support education, on why local engagement matters by small business, the challenges facing higher education, and why he thinks the Every Student Succeeds Act is one of the most consequential pieces of legislation we’ll see over the next 15 years.