News and Notes December 2011
Forget free content repositories; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology wants to deliver “interactive” elite education to the masses, complete with credentials certifying “mastery” of MIT-grade coursework. In the latest boon for the “open education” movement, the engineering mecca on Monday announced a new online learning initiative, called MITx, that will give anyone the opportunity to work through MIT course material and earn a certificate of achievement. Read more >
The Chicago area has near 10% unemployment, but more than 100,000 unfilled jobs. Like the rest of the country, Chicago suffers from a skills gap that undermines our economic competitiveness and threatens our future prosperity.
Despite stubborn unemployment, we have companies offering well-paying jobs that have to go begging for skilled applicants. This is because our community college system, which was a worker's ticket into employment and the middle class during the postwar boom, has failed to keep pace with today's competitive jobs market. Consequently, in a 21st-century economy, our workers still have 20th-century skills. Read more >
It seems everyone is squawking about higher education these days. Tuition costs are spiraling and on top of that, student loan default rates are soaring. Cumulative student loan debt totaled $848 billion on outstanding principal and interest balances for Direct Loans, FFELs (Stafford Loans), and Perkins, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) in its most recent Sept. 30 report, which doesn’t take into account private loans. What’s more, experts say students are taking too long to earn a degree. Read more >
When Joe Biden traveled here last week with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to host a town hall on college affordability, groups of students lined the palm-shaded streets, cheering as the motorcade blew by. On his way out of Fletcher High School, Biden even stopped for a group of effusive fourth graders. But Abby Pugh, a junior at Fletcher, had more questions than unmitigated enthusiasm for the vice president. Read more >
If you missed the recent radio debate between Peter Cappelli and Cheryl Oldham (Minnesota Public Radio's MidMorning Show with Kerri Miller) you missed a mind-expanding 45 minutes! The challenging subject: The job market. Is there really a skills shortage or do companies have unrealistic expectations? Why aren't they getting the employees they need? The two experts offered their opinions, and several callers added theirs. Read more >
The debate over renewing No Child Left Behind, the education reform act that will be 10 years old in January, has fallen along partisan lines even though school improvement is one of the few examples of bipartisan cooperation over the last decade.
Though the law was initiated and signed by a Republican president, presidential candidates like Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, who once supported it, now talk about getting the federal government out of education, echoing Tea Party members who deem federal involvement a constitutional travesty. Democratic reformers, meanwhile, insist that the federal government has a role in telling states how to identify, punish and fix low-performing schools — despite little evidence that Washington has been good at any of these tasks. Read more >