The New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce is a group of American business, government,civil rights and education leaders that proposed a new framework for American education to boost student performance and raise system efficiency. Their report, Tough Choices or Tough Times, recommended dramatic changes to America’s education and training system so that the nation can maintain its standard of living as we advance through the 21st century.
In 1987, the year following the release of A Nation Prepared, the governor of New York and a team of municipal leaders in Rochester, New York invited NCEE’s initial staff of five people to come to Rochester to implement the recommendations made in A Nation Prepared. NCEE opened its doors in Rochester in 1988.
Tucker had not been in Rochester long before he realized that the problems faced by this urban district were very similar to those faced by most other urban districts. Believing that these challenges could only be met by redesigning the larger system of which school districts are only a part, and understanding that such an approach required far more technical resources than any one district could muster, he approached other urban states and districts with the idea of combining resources to work collaboratively to redesign the education system for higher performance. This was the origin of NCEE’s National Alliance for Restructuring Education, launched in 1989.
SCALING UP: INTERNATIONAL BENCHMARKING, AMERICA’S CHOICE: HIGH SKILLS OR LOW WAGES!, THE NEW STANDARDS INITIATIVE, NISL
In the same year, NCEE began its policy development cycle again by creating the Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, with a view to understanding how the dynamics of the global economy were changing the demand for educated and trained labor, learning how the leading nations of the world were responding to those challenges by changing their education and training systems and proposing a course of action for the United States that might enable our own country to field a world-class workforce likely to weather the storms ahead based on what had been learned from other nations. Thus began an investment by NCEE in international benchmarking that has continues to the present day.
The Commission’s report, America’s Choice: high skills or low wages!, was released the following year, in June 1990. Following release of that report, NCEE created its Workforce Development Program, tasked with seeking the policy changes needed to implement the recommendations made in the America’s Choice report. Over the ensuing decade, almost the entire agenda advanced in the report was enacted into legislation by the Congress and signed into law by the President, including the School-to-Work Act, the National Skill Standards Board, and the Workforce Investment Act. At the Rose Garden ceremony at which President Clinton signed his signature education legislation, the President departed from his prepared remarks to single out the contribution made by NCEE to the national education reform agenda. Subsequently, many states also enacted policies designed to support the recommendations made in the America’s Choice report.more » « less