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The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber believes that a strong system of education and the availability of a highly skilled workforce are vital to the Shenandoah Valley’s future prosperity and quality of life. The Chamber also recognizes the critical responsibility of business and industry to ensure that schools and workforce development programs are of the highest quality. The Chamber commits to providing leadership for business cooperation with our educational institutions and workforce development services by communicating needs and expectations, and by sharing resources.

Pre-K – 12
The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber supports policies and practices in which students are expected to achieve at internationally competitive levels within an educational system that ensures the highest levels
of quality in instructional content and learning strategies.

To realize such quality in Virginia's public schools, the Chamber supports the following:

  • Standards and accountability for education which meet appropriate academic goals and encourage thinking and learning skills critical to higher education, workforce skills and life skills
  • Facilitating the active involvement of businesses and business people in the administrative, teaching, and enrichment activities of schools and on state and local boards, policymaking bodies, and advisory groups;
  • Making classroom performance and student achievement a criteria for teacher retention and reward;

  • Ensuring that students at all educational levels have an appropriate understanding of reality-based career options through effective career coaching, mentoring, counseling and the like;

  • Supporting multiple education tracks at the high school level to provide academic, technical and vocational opportunities to students in preparation for alternative educational and career paths after high school;

  • Encouragement and facilitation of parental involvement in all aspects of their children’s education;

  • Encouraging school divisions to seek innovative practices, workforce partnerships and other new learning strategies to meet varying student needs around the region;

  • A  contemporary dropout prevention  program that proactively identifies and addresses issues with at-risk students.

  • Recognition of opportunities and challenges afforded by a diverse student population.

  • A balanced approach to education that includes a curriculum that encourages critical thinking, student achievement and competitiveness in today and tomorrow’s workforce.

Higher Education
The Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber has consistently advocated strong public and private support for its colleges and universities with a variety of degrees and programs that better prepare skilled workers and foster the research and development that will help provide for a robust Virginia economy. Continual investments must be made at a level that will ensure our higher education institutions provide the highest quality programs and facilitate access for Virginians.

Specifically, the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Chamber supports efforts to:

  • Maintain and improve Virginia’s position as a State with a model system of higher education through adequate support and funding for operations, management efficiencies, tuition assistance, technology and research, and collaboration and partnerships;

  • Increase higher education’s focus on requirements associated with current and future state, regional and local workforce needs;

  • Increase the currently static rate of Virginians attending Virginia colleges so that more Virginians can take full advantage of the knowledge-driven economy;

  • Increase the number of graduates in science, engineering, computer science and other technical fields and encourage K-12 partnerships to increase interest in these fields in secondary schools; and

  • Continue current efforts to establish partnerships between two- year and four -year institutions.

The Chamber encourages the Commonwealth to direct resources to:

  • Adequate operating support for the high quality education of current postsecondary students and the anticipated additional enrollment demand;

  • Additional financial aid programs to make colleges and universities more affordable for low- income Virginians;

  • Investments in research and development at Virginia’s major universities and;

  • Promoting workforce development programs and business partnerships; and

  • The Virginia Community College System, given  its responsibility  within the workforce development system.
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