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Fact Sheet: Jobs for the 21st Century

January 21, 2004

Presidential Action:

In his State of the Union Address, President Bush announced Jobs for the 21st Century -- a comprehensive plan to better prepare workers for jobs in the new millennium by strengthening post-secondary education and job training and improving high school education. This plan includes over $500 million in new funding for education and job training programs.

Strengthening Access to Post-Secondary Education and Job Training: The President's plan will expand opportunities for workers to access post-secondary education to get the job training and skills to compete in a changing and dynamic economy and fill jobs in emerging industries -- including $250 million to fund partnerships between community colleges and employers in high-demand job sectors, and $33 million for expanded Pell Grants for low-income students who complete rigorous coursework in high school.

Improving High School Education: The President's plan will also improve the quality of education at our Nation's high schools and better prepare students for success in higher education and the job market -- including $100 million to help striving readers and $120 million to improve math education.

Higher Education

Background: Post-secondary education and training has become an essential requirement for a steadily increasing percentage of jobs. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics 80% of the fastest-growing jobs in the United States require some sort of higher education after high school, and many of these jobs require a strong foundation in math and science. Because they are so adaptable and accessible, community colleges are increasingly critical providers of job training, both for degree-seekers and for workers seeking to retool, refine, and broaden their skills.

The Challenge: High school graduates are not entering college and the workforce with the skills they need to compete in a changing economy. A recent report by the National Center for Education Statistics found that 42% of entering freshmen at public two-year colleges and 20% of entering freshmen at four-year public institutions enrolled in at least one remedial course in 2000. Research from the U.S. Department of Education also shows that there is a strong link between the courses completed in high school and the completion of a post-secondary degree.

President Bush's Plan: President Bush wants to expand access to post-secondary education for low-income students, and he wants to foster a new generation of job training partnerships between community colleges and the employers in industries with the most demand for skilled workers. His plan includes:

  • Community-based Job Training Grants Building on the successes of the President's High-Growth Job Training Initiative, a strategic approach that has provided seed money to fund job training partnerships between community colleges and local high-growth industries, the President proposes $250 million in 2005 to strengthen the role of community colleges in workforce development. These new competitive Community-based Job Training grants would be used for training in community and technical colleges that are linked with local employers looking for more skilled workers.
  • Enhanced Pell Grants The Bush Administration proposes to establish a $33 million program to enhance Pell Grants to reward low-income students who participate in the State Scholars Program by taking a rigorous high school curriculum. This program would provide up to an additional $1,000 per year to students in the first two years of college who complete the rigorous State Scholars curriculum in high school, enroll in college full time, and are Pell Grant recipients. Next year, approximately 36,000 low-income graduating high school seniors would be eligible to receive an enhanced Pell Grant under this proposal.

High School Initiatives

Background: The No Child Left Behind Act is providing accountability and resources to improve the achievement of America's elementary and secondary students. These reforms are already beginning to show results in elementary reading and math scores, but President Bush also wants to ensure that all high school students will be better prepared to enter higher education or the workforce. Unfortunately, recent results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) demonstrate that, while achievement for our Nation's fourth- and eighth-graders is on the rise, scores for twelfth graders have declined in both reading and mathematics.


The Challenge: Many struggling students are at risk of dropping out of school in part because of deficient reading skills. A 2002 study done by researchers at Johns Hopkins University estimates almost one-third of entering ninth-grade students need additional help in reading. In high-poverty high schools, this problem can be even worse, with some studies showing students entering high school three or more grade levels behind in reading. A 1999 study by Andrew Sum of Northeastern University confirms that literacy is highly correlated with the probability of ever earning a high school diploma, the probability of ever earning a higher education degree, and with future earnings.

The President's Plan: The Administration is proposing a new $100 million Striving Readers Initiative that would make competitive grants to develop, implement, and evaluate effective reading interventions for middle or high school students reading significantly below grade level. This program would complement the Reading First State Grants program, which provides comprehensive reading instruction for children in kindergarten through third grade that is grounded in scientifically based reading research. The proposal would provide funds to approximately 50 to 100 school districts for reading intervention programs to help middle and high school students catch up to their peers in reading.


The Challenge: Research indicates many students who drop out of school lack basic skills in mathematics. A 2002 study done by researchers at Johns Hopkins found that "[i]n almost every State, there is at least a 35 percent difference between the percent of white eighth graders and the percent of eighth graders in the State's largest minority groups scoring at the basic level in mathematics on the NAEP test." Further, a 2001 study of Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) data revealed that 40 percent of the Nation's 13-year olds fail to perform as well as the average student worldwide in mathematics. Many jobs of the future, however, require a strong background in math and science.

The President's Plan: The Administration is proposing a $120 million increase for the Mathematics and Science Partnership program authorized in the No Child Left Behind Act. The increase would support direct Federal competitive grants to partnerships to increase achievement in mathematics for secondary students. The new 3-year competitive grants would support projects that have significant potential to accelerate the mathematics achievement of all secondary students, but especially low-achieving students. The initiative would focus on ensuring that States and school districts implement professional development projects for mathematics teachers that are strongly grounded in research and that help mathematics teachers to strengthen their skills.

Advanced Placement

The Challenge: Low-income students who participate in Advanced Placement (AP) programs, which give students the opportunity to take college-level courses in high school, are much more likely to enroll and be successful in college than their peers. While enrollment in AP courses has nearly tripled over the past decade, studies show that minority students participate in AP classes and tests at rates far below those of non-minority students, since many students from low-income families attend schools that do not offer AP classes.

President Bush's Plan: Advanced Placement programs not only encourage the growth of Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) courses, but also serve as a mechanism for upgrading the entire high school curriculum for all students. The Administration is proposing a $28 million increase for the Advanced Placement program authorized in the No Child Left Behind Act bringing spending on it to nearly $52 million a year. The increase in funds will ensure that teachers in low-income schools are well-trained to teach AP and IB courses. This program has two components: Advanced Placement Test Fee and Advanced Placement Incentive grants. The purpose of both programs is to support State and local efforts to increase access to advanced placement classes and tests for students in low-income schools, as well as other programs with challenging curricular and end-of-course examinations such as the International Baccalaureate program.

Adjunct Teacher Corps

The Challenge: Job growth is expected to occur in occupations requiring a strong foundation in math and science. According to the Department of Education's 1999-2000 Schools and Staffing Survey, 52 percent of middle school and 15 percent of high school mathematics teachers did not have a major or minor in mathematics and 40 percent of middle school and 11 percent of high school science teachers did not have a major or minor in science.

President Bush's Plan: Many school districts need opportunities and the personnel to strengthen instruction in middle and high schools in the core academic subjects, especially mathematics and science. The Adjunct Teacher Corps would help alleviate this critical situation by bringing professionals with subject-matter knowledge and experience into the classroom. The Administration is proposing a new $40 million initiative to provide competitive grants to partnerships of school districts and public or private institutions to create opportunities for professionals to teach middle and high school courses in the core academic subjects, particularly in mathematics and science.

Grants would be used to: (1) identify, as adjunct teachers, well-qualified individuals outside of the K-12 educational system, including outstanding individuals at the height of their careers in business, government, and institutions of higher learning; and (2) facilitate arrangements for these individuals to function in this capacity, for example, by teaching one or more courses at a school site on a part-time basis, teaching full-time in middle and high schools while on leave from their jobs, or teaching courses that would be available online or through other distance-learning arrangements. The proposal would provide for approximately 60 to 100 awards for partnerships to create and implement arrangements for using well-qualified individuals as teachers on an adjunct basis as is done in our institutions of higher education.

State Scholars

The Challenge: Students are not entering college with the skills necessary to succeed in and complete a post-secondary education. According to a recent study by the Manhattan Institute, 70% of all students in public high schools graduate, but only 32% of all students leave high school academically prepared to attend college. College readiness for minority students is even lower: 51% of all black students graduate, but only 20% leave high school college-ready; and 52% of all Hispanic students graduate, but only 16% leave high school college-ready.

President Bush's Plan: The Administration proposes $12 million in funding for the State Scholars program to make grants available nationwide. In August 2002, President Bush announced the State Scholars Initiative, modeled on the successful Texas Scholars program, to encourage high school students to take more rigorous high school courses. Under the State Scholars Initiative, 12 States have already received assistance in developing and promoting strong courses of study, as well as providing special incentives for students enrolled in these programs.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: Jobs for the 21st Century Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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