The U.S. Economy and Public Education

At NBC's Education Nation Summit yesterday, Melinda sat down with our good friend Warren Buffett and his daughter, Susie Buffett, to talk about education.

Melinda and I believe deeply that education should be everyone's priority, and it should be at the top of our nation's domestic policy agenda. There's a lot of uncertainty today about our nation's economy, but there is no uncertainty that a high-quality education is key to economic prosperity for all of our people -- and for us as a nation.

The numbers don't lie. Unemployment rates among Americans who never went to college are about double that of those who have a postsecondary education. And the need for highly-skilled workers is growing. By 2018, an estimated 63 percent of all new U.S. jobs will require workers with an education beyond high school.

For our young people to get those jobs, they first need to graduate from high school ready to start a postsecondary education. Right now, only one-third of all high school graduates are prepared to succeed in college-level work. To raise that number, every student must have a great teacher in every subject, every year.

And once today's students start their postsecondary studies, they deserve a system that supports them all the way to the end -- so they can finish what they started in a timely way -- and at an affordable price.

Melinda and I are working hard with our partners on these issues. We welcome the help of others. We want this country to be a more equitable, more prosperous place for everyone. And we feel passionately that the road to a better future passes through American schools.

Bill Gates is the co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He regularly posts his thoughts about the Foundation's work and other projects on his personal web site, The Gates Notes.