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President's Message

May 2024

From the Business Perspective Newsletter

We the people . . .

Can you recite the Preamble to the U.S. Constitution?

If you’re like me you can, while silently humming that jaunty School House Rock earworm, a favorite from my elementary school Saturday morning cartoon days. Those tunes taught us how bills became laws, and about conjunctions, adverbs, and a little math.

We could use some School House Rock now. Our friends at the U.S. Chamber Foundation share data with us that is alarming:

  • 52% of Americans think democracy has failed or is in trouble
  • 53% of Americans can’t name all three branches of government, and
  • The majority of 18-24 year olds say they would give up their right to vote over TikTok – 59%!

So we were all in when our Chamber and Chamber Foundation’s leadership learned about the U.S. Chamber Foundation’s collaboration with The Civic Trust to produce the National Civics Bee for middle schoolers. The U.S. Chamber Foundation’s goal is to strengthen America’s long-term competitiveness. Their creation of the Civic Trust and programs like the National Civics Bee enhances understanding of the importance of democracy to national prosperity and promotes civics knowledge in our schools, businesses and communities.

We’re proud to have been one of four Kansas chambers to host local competitions this year. Our top three finalists will represent us in the state competition hosted by the Kansas Leadership Center in Wichita and we couldn’t be more proud of them. To qualify for the Bee, they submitted essays about a community problem they’d like to solve and presented it to a panel of judges. They also went through two rounds of civics questions testing their knowledge of the Constitution and how our form of government works.

These students – 6th-8th graders – addressed big issues in their essays from health care access to mental health to antisemitism. They’re bright and articulate, and I look forward to seeing their success in the future. We hope you’ll consider engaging in next year’s National Civics Bee – as a judge or sponsor. If you’re the parent of a middle schooler, watch for details on how your child can participate. For details, contact Kevin Walker at

In the meantime, to Rishaan, Pranjal and Caleb, we’re cheering for you as you head to Wichita!

Oltjen-Tracey for column

written by

Tracey Osborne Oltjen, CCE, IOM

President & CEO