ICW's October 2012 Newsletter
A monthly update from ICW on education and workforce initiatives and policies.
I know what you’re thinking, but no, the latest innovation to hit higher education doesn’t have much in common with that colorful word that’s used frequently by New Jersey gangsters. MOOCs—or massive open online courses—have been getting quite a bit of attention lately, and rightfully so. At their core, MOOCs provide people from all walks of life the chance to learn something for nothing. All you need is an Internet connection, and you’re ready to go.
College degrees are becoming a dime a dozen these days. It is increasingly accepted that a postsecondary degree, of some variety, is needed to obtain employment and excel in the workforce. Even at a time of decreasing college enrollment, students are investing more money in postsecondary education than ever before. There is no denying that college is expensive, and with so many options, it can be unclear which degrees offer the best bang for the highly-revered buck.
Three weeks ago, another education reformer was dismissed from his post by protectors of the status quo. This time, it happened in Wake County, North Carolina when a 5-4 vote of the Board of Education dismissed former Broad Academy graduate and Army General, Anthony "Tony" Tata as district superintendent. At a time when district scores are going up, dropouts are going down, and their accreditation status recently upgraded, why did the Board of Education let the superintendent of 20-months go?
When unionized teachers in Chicago took to the picket lines in September, leaving classrooms empty in the first weeks of the new school year, it caught America’s attention. Now that the debate over education has been reignited, let’s put the focus back where it belongs—on the students. Many Americans are deeply concerned about the state of public K–12 education—and others are downright mad. A new Hollywood film features the fight of one mother and one teacher who are fed up with the low standards, union control, and bureaucratic bungling that contribute to chronically failing schools.
High-tech manufacturing companies like Boeing are concerned about the United States’ ability to sustain its leadership role in technology and innovation. The state of American education—and even the academic rigor required to earn an engineering degree—has become a frequent talking point at the national level. Some even mistakenly theorize that our students are not up to the challenge of studying engineering, math, and science because it’s just too hard. The answer to this national crisis lies not in changing the engineering, math, and science curriculum but in changing learning environments and how these subjects are taught.
Low-income students have a higher likelihood of dropping out of school, in part because they are not exposed to the same resources as their more affluent peers. The fact is that all students, no matter their socioeconomic status, should be given the means to excel in school and held to the same high standards. In 1975, Greg Gannon, a math teacher from a Washington, D.C. high school, founded the educational program, Higher Achievement. The program’s original purpose was to address the growing achievement gap faced by students in underrepresented communities and create equal learning opportunities. Thirty-seven years later, Higher Achievement provides tangible results focused on data-driven program quality, academic rigor, and student accountability.