Worth reading

Always too much good stuff that I can’t find time or space to write about. Here are links to three reports/articles I found worth reading.

The Harvard Graduate School of Education released an important study called Pathways to Prosperity which puts back on the table the question of whether the sole focus of k-12 education should be college for all. Their point, that many have made before, is that there will be plenty of good-paying jobs in the economy of the future that do not require a four year degree. But rather more technical skills. That it is quite likely that students can best develop those technical skills in school settings other than a college prep classroom. Something like a reinvented vocational/technical ed. Worth reading and worth debating. The pendulum may have swung too far.

Yahoo Finance ran an article entitled Census estimates show big gains for US minorities. Interesting in and of itself. This is the new reality of US population growth:  predominantly from minorities, particularly Hispanics, many of then foreign born. But what I found most interesting is that Hispanics were the main reason for most states picking up Congressional seats. That’s right Hispanics, not folks like us voting with their feet for low tax states as we were told by many when the Census data was released. Wonder if those folks are willing to advocate that we need to be like those southern and western states and be more open to minorities, many immigrants, many illegal. Doesn’t fit with their story, does it?

Finally, and maybe most important of the three, a fascinating and scary article from Business Week on the growth of microworkers. This is companies getting projects done by workers online where they only pay for the products they like. Pretty amazing folks do the work in competition with others from across the planet knowing in advance that only a few of them – the ones with the best ideas/products – will get paid. If this is where some substantial proportion of future work is headed we are in for a revolution in the way labor markets work. As individuals and communities we are totally unprepared for this future.

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Lou Glazer

Lou Glazer is President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., a non-partisan, non-profit organization. Michigan Future’s mission is to be a source of new ideas on how Michigan can succeed as a world class community in a knowledge-driven economy. Its work is funded by Michigan foundations.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Hello
    I am one of those uneducated that your org. seems to enjoy passively bashing.I admit that i am not a long time reader of the material produced by this site.Maybe its not my place to even respond, but this is my thought cleaned up the best I can.. Michigan is not oz, so you cannot stand behind the curtain of education and pull levers thinking your fixing anything.. There is no conspiracy to put Michigan out of work..There have been a lot of bad decision made by law makers that tie the hands of the average Michigan persons ability to prosper..turning Michigan in to yet another think tank will not have the effect you think it will. Let me leave you with this thought..You may be able to chart the usefulness of purchasing the train, but without the people running and maintaining it, thinkers will only be able to wait for it to move…Michigan is unique we think and act differently than any other state, your comparisons will not help you with that..Please think of Michigan as a whole..While important, education is not the only answer..

    1. Thanks for your comments. Our intent is not to bash anyone. What we are about is helping people understand what is happening to the economy across the planet. As we write frequently, if there was a way to recreate the old Michigan we would welcome that. But the evidence is overwhelming that that economy is gone forever. Globalization and technology are changing the economy. And the main change is that job growth – particularly good paying job growth – increasingly requires higher skills. This is true across the country – every state – and in most advanced economies across the planet. Wishing and hoping that there is some lever that our policy makers can pull to go back to the economy of the past where education attainment mattered less to economic success is a dead end. There is no such lever. Unemployment is higher and wages lower for non college educated adults in every state in the country. And those gaps are getting greater everywhere. Michigan is not unique. We may be slower than many in adjusting to these new realities, probably because the old economy was so good to us. Letting go is hard. But fundamentally we have the capacity as well as any other state to adjust to these new realities. It is a choice both as individuals and as a state that we need to make if we want to be prosperous again.

  2. Glenn Belouse’s comment is representative of the attitudes of those still in Michigan: so belligerant and defensive that he misses the point. It’s not *only* about degree attainment but what it represents: persistence, hard-working, intellectually curious, and ambitious. No one is saying that if you don’t have a degree then you are stupid, untalented, or not a hard worker. It’s that we are living in a late capitalist economy and the opportunities for non-degree holders that were available 40 or even 25 years ago are no longer viable. Any decent urbanist will tell you that places that can cultivate native talent and attract non-native talent create dynamic places; “business friendly” in the 21st century is not only going to be about taxes but also imply that the area has talented workers who like to live and play there. How to attract and retain that talent has everything to do with urban policy, cultural development, and creative opportunities.

    People with degrees tend to come out of college with connections (via school relationships and internships), tend to be more mobile, and have the option of choosing where they want to live based on lifestyle choices and not only out of financial necessity/job opportunities. They invest money in their communities via consumption of retail and entertainment sectors, support cultural institutions like museums and symphonies, and promote the place via word of mouth to their friends. Chit-chat in bars in NYC or Boston or DC or SF – that usually begins with the standard “Where are you from? Where did you go to school?” and people mean college and/or grad school. Chit chat in Michigan that begins with “where did you go to school?” usually means high school.

  3. And I thought this article would be “worth reading” because the wisdom presented would equal that presented by Copernicus.

    Indeed, when we look to the sky it may still seem as though the Sun goes around the Earth, but the Earth really does orbit the Sun. Indeed, when we look to our nightly news and views on “prosperity”, it may seem as though k-12 educational reform for our adolescents should be in the direction of teaching “more technical skills” or other job related goals. Have we forgotten that, even pre-dating Copernicus, teenagers still orbit teenagers?

    Educators, we are still overlooking the obvious! The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), as well as the state boards of education, let economics and employment readiness guide their decisions about which courses merited “core subject matter” status. Until we include a basic Adolescent Psychology course for our adolescents, we are overlooking the obvious. 100% of middle to high school students are either pre-adolescents or adolescents. Indeed, the most relevant subject matter to those humans we call “teenagers” – of all cultural and economic backgrounds – are those matters that concern “teenagers.” No, the sole focus of k-12 education should not be Psychology. Yes, NCLB brought excellent reforms. However, it overlooked the obvious. Our students are living laboratories (hopefully) evolving as they (hopefully) learn.

    When properly designed, aligned, and taught to our adolescents, an Adolescent Psychology course will peek their interest, make school relevant, open their minds to future careers, and even open their minds to their minds.

    Indeed, the article was “worth reading,” but perhaps we should read it in the context of what has always been, yet overlooked, at the center of the adolescent’s universe.

    True, not every student will wake-up as wise as Samuel Clemens the morning after the last day of class, but he or she will wake-up wiser.

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