Cooke Executive Director to Nation’s Governors: Excellence Gap threatens Nation’s Health

LANSDOWNE, VA – Speaking before the National Governors’ Association (NGA) Education and Workforce Committee during the NGA’s 2015 Summer Meeting on Saturday, Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Executive Director Harold Levy warned the nation’s governors of the threat the Excellence Gap poses to the strength of the American workforce.

During his remarks, Levy said, “If you take the kids in the top 25 percent in reading scores in the 10th grade and of those kids, take the kids who are in the bottom 25 percent financially, whether by wealth or income—so you have very smart, very poor kids—22 percent of them do not take the ACT or the SAT and 23 percent of them do not go to college… I always thought that if you were poor and smart, you could write your own ticket. That turns out to be simply not true.”

Levy continued, “The workforce ramifications of this [Excellence Gap] are pretty awful. National economy: weakened. The American dream of social mobility, in some cases: denied. And it reduces our economic creativity… Today’s employer needs must be met but the employer himself or herself doesn’t even know today what the skills they will need tomorrow. And that’s what we also have to keep focus on. So I submit to you, we need identification, we need pathways, and we need accountability. It’s intellectual development, not just labor preparedness–it’s both.”

Click the video below to watch Levy’s full remarks.

Levy also provided the governors with a “Best Practices” document outlining some of the most effective state efforts aimed at helping low-income, high-achieving students maximize their potential. To review the recommendations, click here.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is dedicated to advancing the education of exceptionally promising students who have financial need. By offering the largest scholarships in the country, comprehensive counseling and other support services to students from 7th grade to graduate school, the Foundation is dedicated to ensuring high-performing, low-income students have the support necessary to develop their talents and excel educationally. In addition to its scholarship programs, the Foundation provides grants for innovative, high-impact initiatives that benefit such students. By doing so, the Cooke Foundation seeks to use its resources to end the Excellence Gap, the disparity between the number of low and high income students who reach the top levels of academic performance. Founded in 2000, the Foundation has awarded $130 million in scholarships to 1,900 students and over $80 million in grants.