Intel had the opportunity to participate on October 20th in the US News & World Report Education Summit in Washington, DC, which focused on improving America’s secondary schools. My boss, Will Swope, Intel’s VP of Corporate Affairs, delivered introductory remarks and participated in the panel on public-private partnerships in education. It was a great event with lots of good discussion on the complex problem of improving quality in America’s schools. Will talked about Intel’s passion for education – we need brilliant minds to continue to drive our innovation pipeline, and we have been focused since our founding on education as the cornerstone of our corporate social responsibility efforts. We were also very excited to announce at the event our new $120M commitment extending our sponsorship of the two largest pre-collegiate science fairs in the world – the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair and the Intel Science Talent Search.The panel on public-private partnership was interesting in that the moderator, staying true to his job of keeping things interesting, asked a few questions about whether private involvement in schools amounted to “corporate takeover.” We explained our view of public-private partnership is that we support governments and educators in achieving their objectives which are part of their strategic plan, and we make sure to agree on clear goals, success measures and timelines. I was gratified to hear that we were in perfect agreement with the other panelists who represented educators and school boards. They pointed out that public private partnership must be long term and cited Intel as an example of a company whose commitment fits that description. They talked about that fact that we need “not only a knowledge-based economy, but a creative, innovative economy,” and explained how the private sector can help support the expansion from “school day” to “learning day,” where learning is not limited to the formal classroom. There was a lot of excitement about the potential of technology to facilitate this transformation. And the policy experts were grateful for the role the private sector can play in advocating for the tough changes that need to be made to improve the quality of American education – such as encouraging states to raise standards for high school graduation so that graduates will be truly prepared for college or work in a knowledge economy. Lots to think about but I walked away convinced that the private sector has an important role to play in promoting quality education and grateful to be working for a company dedicated to making it happen!
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