I spent several years teaching media writing at Kent State University. And during that time I developed an even greater appreciation for writers who can make their points concisely and forcefully. Bob Herbert, who writes a column for The New York Times, is one of the best.

Here’s an example — and it involves the issue of workforce readiness and high school dropouts. In his column May 17 — “Hard Roads Ahead” — Herbert writes:

At a time when the nation is faced with tough economic challenges at home and ever-increasing competition from abroad, it’s incredible that more is not being done about the poor performance of so many American high schools.

We can’t even keep the kids in school. A third of them drop out. Half of those who remain go on to graduate without the skills for college or a decent job. Someone please tell me how this is a good thing.

Well, Bob Wise certainly isn’t going to tell Herbert or anyone else that. Wise, the former governor of West Virginia, is now president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, described by Herbert as a “policy and advocacy group committed to improving the high schools.” He’s also written a book on the subject: “Raising the Grade: How High School Reform Can Save Our Youth and Our Nation.”

And in addition to mentioning some key points from Wise’s book, Herbert also highlights the recent announcement that the AT&T Foundation was sponsoring “a $100 million initiative to address the high school dropout problem and improve the readiness of American teenagers for college and the real world of work.”

This issue of workforce readiness is a key priority for Corporate Voices for Working Families and our member companies and strategic partners. And Elyse Rosenblum, an expert on this subject with Corporate Voices, is putting the final touches on our statement of principles on workforce readiness as well as a comprehensive white paper on the subject. Copies will be available soon.

In the meantime, here’s the conclusion to Herbert’s column:

An issue that is front and center in the campaign is the economy. We’re looking for ways to turn things around for the short and long term. One of the answers in this technologically advanced, highly competitive, increasingly globalized environment is staring us right in the eyes.

As Mr. Wise put it, “The best economic stimulus package is a diploma.”

In total Bob Herbert wrote 765 words. But he sure said a lot: concisely and forcefully.

By Rob Jewell