Kevin Brinegar commentary: Krull column misses the point

There are so many things wrong with John Krull’s recent column, “Chamber misses the moment,” that it’s difficult to know where to begin. Let’s start with his premise that our recent Indiana Chamber report, “Indiana’s Leaking Talent Pipeline,” laid the blame for lackluster education outcomes on local educators and K-12 schools. Nothing could be further from the truth. This is not about pointing fingers. We merely cited the facts; numbers are what they are. But even Krull acknowledges there is “significant room for improvement” in our schools.

While Indiana is the envy of many states when it comes to our business climate, cost of living and other key economic measures, we continue to fall short on the metric that matters most: the education attainment level of Hoosiers, which ranks us 37th nationally among all states. There’s no single root cause and a whole host of reasons for how we arrived at this point. But the fact remains that Indiana’s talent pipeline – from pre-kindergarten through postsecondary education and beyond – is not delivering on its promise for all Hoosiers, particularly low-income and minority students.

Our report is a sober-eyed assessment of where Indiana stands today and a call for collective action from all stakeholders – policymakers, business and community leaders, educators and Hoosier families – that’s driven by a sense of urgency that we can and must do better. The Indiana Chamber isn’t interested in blaming others or merely describing the problem. Rather, we lay out a series of proactive policy proposals, critical investments and targeted interventions intended to garner bipartisan support for focusing our attention where it’s needed most.

One thing we agree with John Krull on is there is no magic bullet to repair the state’s leaking talent pipeline. Everyone must work together for the betterment of our students and to create the first-class workforce Indiana needs.

Shooting the messenger accomplishes nothing and doing so exclusively only further widens the gap between the “haves” and the “have nots” in a knowledge-driven economy that requires more education and high-level skills than any time before in our history.

Calling out those who want to be part of the solution is a defense mechanism and a distraction that our state, Hoosier students and Indiana employers simply can’t afford.

Kevin Brinegar is president and CEO of the Indiana Chamber of Commerce.

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