I don’t pretend to be an expert on federal educational policy, but I am appreciating, and wish to share, some pieces of  Secretary Duncan’s speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, on the topic “Economic Security and 21st c. Education.”   I have grave reservations about some implications of Race to the Top, most of all that it will bring a renewed and exacerbated focus on narrowing what we measure regarding educational progress, and I continue to cite Yong Zhao as my primary guide on this topic: “”national common standards will not close the achievement gap. Instead, it distracts us from truly educating our children for the future.”  (See Zhao’s article, “Arne Duncan’s Mistaken View of Education and NCLB.” )

But there is still a lot in his speech which I admire and appreciate.  So, to practice some positive reinforcement, let me share some key quotes:

The quality of our work force and the intellectual breadth and depth of our future leaders is directly related to the quality of education we provide today.  The President has called on us to encourage and engage students to become “inventors and builders of things, not just consumers.”.

It is in the classrooms where the most important teaching and learning occurs – and the critical relationship between teacher and student is developed.

Let’s set clear goals but give people a lot more flexibility to meet them. Hold people accountable, but give them the room to innovate and put their best ideas into practice. We are reviewing every line item with an eye toward effectiveness and innovation.

NCLB also has the perverse effect of narrowing the curriculum around subjects we test. All children need a well-rounded curriculum that both enables them to develop their unique talents and skills and prepares them for tomorrow’s workplace.

Depending on your business, you can offer a summer job to a science teacher and a field trip for the science class.  STEM Education – which stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math – is one particular area where greater business involvement is really needed for America to lead an innovation renaissance.

We can build the partnerships among businesses, museums, non-profits and educators to develop better science curricula – devise inspiring engineering and design challenges, and create new technology around computational thinking and math.