Kyle Butler Kyle Butler
Senior Manager, Programs
Caitlin Codella Low
Vice President, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

Published

April 29, 2024

Share

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation has been working directly with business and community leaders across the country to improve K-12 education for decades. The business community is invested in the success of our educational system because it is the cornerstone of an educated, skilled workforce. Simply put, today’s students are tomorrow’s workforce, and economic mobility and opportunity begin with a quality education.

Unfortunately, the current K-12 education system isn’t adequately preparing our students for both work and life after graduation. According to data released in 2023 from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, just 26% of eighth graders are at or above proficient in math, 32% of fourth graders are at or above proficient in reading, and they’re unlikely to catch up once they’re behind.  of students attending two- and four-year public universities take a remedial course at some point in their postsecondary career. These statistics are even more dismal for students of color and low-income students.

And while there was some cause for optimism before the pandemic, nearly two decades of progress have been wiped out. Even before the pandemic, it was safe to say that improvement was not happening at the rate we needed it to. Far too many students were graduating without essential skills then, and even more ar e now. K-12 education needs clear, consistent, and coherent focus to maintain our global leadership and economic prosperity.

That’s why we’re launching Commerce Meets Classroom, a blog series that highlights the work the U.S. Chamber Foundation and business leaders across the country are doing on K-12 education and the business community’s perspective on pressing education issues.  

In this series, we will return to our core beliefs for education. Broadly, we believe in:

  • Accountability and transparency among schools and systems. Parents and community members want to know — and should know — how well public schools are doing in preparing students for college or a career.
  • High standards and expectations for students, educators, and systems. Our educational system ranks among the bottom half of economically advanced countries. We should expect better. All students can learn if given the opportunity and support and have their basic needs met.
  • Research-driven innovation that drives investment. There is not enough information available about what strategies yield the best outcomes for students. We must do more to uncover successful practices and incentivize school districts and states to adopt and scale them. 

This series will spread the word about key education initiatives and encourage business leaders to level up their work supporting education in their communities. By consistently adding our voice to the urgency of improving education, the U.S. Chamber Foundation can be a part of the solution in providing a fulfilling life to our nation’s students and a productive workforce for businesses everywhere.

Now Accepting Nominations for the Citizens Awards

For 25 years, the Citizens Awards have recognized businesses for their leadership in solving the world’s biggest challenges. Awards are given in nine categories, honoring the most innovative and impactful corporate citizenship programs, from civic engagement and economic opportunity to education and disaster response. Apply by June 14, 2024.

About the authors

Kyle Butler

Kyle Butler

Kyle Butler is senior manager of K-12 education programs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Read more

Caitlin Codella Low

Caitlin Codella Low is vice president of policy and programs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. Low develops and oversees the Foundation’s programs for early childhood education, K‒12 education and its commitment to college- and career- readiness.

Read more