Earlier this month, the National Governors Association (NGA) announced the creation of a seventeen-member task force that will guide Innovation America, the 2006–07 Chair’s initiative of Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano (D).
“To maximize our strengths in this increasingly global environment, governors must partner with the business and academic communities to ensure state policies complement and reinforce private [sector] innovation,” Napolitano said. “The Innovation America task force provides an outstanding forum for these groups to work together to enhance our economic competitiveness.”
Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty (R) will join Governor Napolitano as the task force’s cochair. Other governors on the panel include Kansas’s Kathleen Sebelius (D), Missouri’s Matt Blunt (R), Pennsylvania’s Edward Rendell (D), and Utah’s Jon Huntsman, Jr. (R).
Governor Napolitano’s Innovation America initiative seeks to raise national awareness of the urgent need to embrace innovation as the United States’ path to maintaining competitiveness. During its two-day meeting, the task force is expected to discuss the state innovation landscape, K–12 classes in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and the role of postsecondary education as an engine of innovation.
“The goal of my Chair’s initiative is to educate our students to be innovators, and to carry that spirit of innovation through their university experience and into the workforce,” Napolitano said when she unveiled the initiative at the NGA’s annual meeting in August. “Math and science education teaches true problem solving skills that, in turn, will increase our nation’s capacity for innovation in virtually every field.”
In 2004–05, former Virginia Governor Mark Warner (D) chose Redesigning the American High School as his NGA Chair’s initiative. During the course of that year, the NGA brought national attention to the urgent need to improve America’s high schools, highlighted by a major summit on high schools in 2005. The summit featured an appearance by Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft and cofounder of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, who garnered headlines when he told participants that today’s high schools are “obsolete” and unequipped to adequately prepare the workforce of the twenty-first century.
More information on Innovation America is available at http://www.nga.org/ci.