More than 200 educators, politicians, ministers, parents, business and community leaders gathered at Florence Darlington Technical College for a business summit sponsored by Boeing on Tuesday. The summit focused on early childhood education.
"When you invest in the earliest years you get the best outcomes," said Nora Moreno Cargie.
Cargie is a director with Boeing. She told the audience economic growth starts with investing in the education of children. Cargie says research shows that as of 2004, 20 percent of U.S. workers were functionally illiterate, and that leads to a failing workforce.
Cargie said, "Some estimate that we have five million positions that are available in the science and technology industries across this country and yet we don't have the workforce to fill those positions."
Cargie believes it's important to begin educating children at birth.
"That birth to five time frame is when they're brains are connecting and forming," said Cargie.
She adds parents play a pivotal role. Educators agree, but say it takes a village to educate children.
"It's our job and the people here today to sit, to listen, to take note and to go back and be able to apply this in our local schools and daycare," said Robert Sullivan, Superintendent Florence School District 2.
Dr.Sara Watson of the Pew Center On the States also served as a speaker. She echoed Cargie's message by saying investing in children's education is key to economic growth.
Officials with Boeing say the summit was a big success. They're just hoping that it sparks change.
The School Foundation co-hosted the summit.
The foundation was formed in 2000.
Its website says the primary purpose of the Foundation was to raise private donations in the form of grants to support the 15,000 students at 23 schools in Florence School District One.