New Orleans Education Forum explores the connection between business and education

By Paul Dauphin

bsp_9183-copyThe goals of providing parents with quality education options and business owners seeking a highly trained workforce shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. The New Orleans Education Forum recently brought together African-American business leaders and education reformers to discuss the importance of improving K-12 education, providing parents with quality educational options and creating America’s future workforce.

The forum, sponsored by the Louisiana Federation for Children, in partnership with U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., and New Orleans Regional Black Chamber of Commerce, was held in New Orleans during the Bayou Classic, the annual Thanksgiving weekend football clash between Grambling State University and Southern University.

Ron Busby, President/CEO of U.S. Black Chambers, Inc., said there is a direct relationship between successful businesses and great schools. “For there to be great black businesses, you need great black employees. And to have great black employees you need great black schools.”

Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, Deputy Under Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education, said too often your ZIP Code, parents’ level of education and family income determine success. “We have to make sure that opportunity for all is not just a great saying, but it’s a great reality in this country.”

“We have to begin to provide as many different options and opportunities as possible for kids coming out of high school to determine what works best for them,” said Ann Duplessis, President of the Louisiana Federation for Children.

Duplessis, who is also a New Orleans banking executive, said a business owner’s primary concern, when considering where to locate, is the quality of the education system. “Will I be able to have a qualified and competent workforce to grow my industry?”