Verizon Foundation President Participates In National Summit on 21st Century Skills

Verizon Foundation President Participates In National Summit on 21st Century Skills

Education leaders, policy makers and business experts gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 2009 National Education Summit on 21st Century Skills on June 11th and 12th. Verizon was one of the sponsors of the two-day summit organized by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

Participants at the summit focused on the critical need for U.S. education to combine important core skills such as reading comprehension, writing and math with 21st century skills that include problem solving, creativity, communication and critical thinking.

Verizon Foundation President Patrick Gaston participated on the plenary panel discussing the economic need for 21st century skills in U.S. education. Verizon Foundation dedicates financial, technical and human resources to improving education and preparing children and adults for success in the 21st century.

Ray Suarez, senior correspondent on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, moderated the panel which also included U.S. Chamber of Commerce Vice President Lydia Logan; Tony Wagner, co-director, Change Leadership Group, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Emily DeRocco, senior vice president of the National Association of Manufacturers and Dr. Steven Paine, superintendent of West Virginia schools.

"Verizon needs graduates who are innovators and thought leaders who can develop products and services that keep us competitive. We need graduates who have the skills to solve problems we don't even know exist yet," said Gaston.

Gaston reported on a recent survey of employers. Forty percent said incoming high school graduates they hire are not prepared for their entry-level jobs. Nearly 72 percent of the graduates are viewed as deficient in basic English writing skills, including grammar and spelling. Almost 60 percent of the employers said critical thinking and problem solving skills are very important, yet 70 percent rated recently hired high school graduates as deficient in critical thinking.

"Today's students need to master traditional subjects such as math and science while learning 21st century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and communications. We need education policy that produces graduates who understand and are poised to improve the economy," Gaston added.

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