Weekly News Brief 1/29-2/3 How do schools train for a workplace that doesn’t exist yet? | Department of Education wants menu of curricula for schools to choose from

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How do schools train for a workplace that doesn’t exist yet? – By Caroline Preston, The Hechinger Report

We’ve all heard the dire predictions about the coming robot apocalypse. Automation threatens 47 percent of jobs. As many as 800 million people worldwide could be displaced and need to find new jobs by 2030. Middle-class families will be hit the hardest.

Chris Burns has heard these sorts of predictions, too. He’s also seen just how fast changes are happening in his own industry, information technology. Burns works for a business near Cincinnati that sells cloud computing and other technology services, and he says there is a big shortage of skilled IT employees both nationally and in his metro area. His company has started working with local high schools to introduce students and teachers to tech tools and career paths, but he wonders whether it’s enough and what sorts of approaches he ought to be taking given the uncertainty around what jobs will look like in the future.

I asked Anthony Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, for his thoughts on this question. Carnevale told me that, first of all, the story of robots creating mass unemployment has been overhyped. To the extent that automation alters people’s work lives, it’ll affect the tasks they do, but few occupations will be completely wiped out. We still need people training to be computer programmers and nurses and engineers — some of those individuals may just have different specialties within their fields in a decade or two.


N.H. Lawmakers Consider Overhaul Of School Discipline Rules – By Sarah Gibson, New Hampshire Public Radio

Statehouse lawmakers heard over two hours of testimony today on a bill to overhaul the state's current school discipline law.

HB 677 would limit the length of out-of-school suspensions for theft, destruction, violence or possessing a firearm to ten consecutive days.

If students were suspended for more than a total of ten days per school year, their school would be required to provide them with an assessment and services.

The bill includes an appropriation of $5 million dollars in federal funds to help schools implement behavioral health model - called Multi-Tiered System of Supports for Behavioral Health and Wellness, or MTSS-B's - as alternatives to suspensions.

But school administrators expressed concern this wouldn't cover the cost of training teachers and hiring psychologists, and wouldn't leave them enough discretion.

Ken Page, the interim executive director for New Hampshire Association of School Princials, said the bill needed greater study and some tweaks before he could support it.

"We urge any changes to the law must consider the flexibility that is needed by the school leader," he wrote in a statement presented to the House Education Committee.



Department of Education wants menu of curricula for schools to choose from – By Linda Borg, The Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE — For the first time, the Rhode Island Department of Education wants to press districts to adopt from a menu of high-quality curricula, a proposal that has received support from the teachers’ unions and the state’s school committees.

The plan, announced Wednesday night by Andy Andrade, the education department’s legislative liaison, goes further than a bill by Rep. Joseph McNamara, which asks the state commissioner of education to publish several examples of high-quality curricula by 2020. McNamara’s bill also asks the education department to beef up the state’s education standards to meet the rigorous new standardized test, the Rhode Island Common Assessment Program, modeled after the Bay State’s acclaimed assessment.

“The goal is to make sure that every student has access to a high-quality curriculum,” Andrade said during Wednesday’s hearing before the House Committee of Health, Education and Welfare. It would only include English and math curricula.

After the dismal RICAS test scores were released last month, state leaders have renewed the call to become more like Massachusetts, whose students typically rank top in the nation. One of the biggest criticisms of Rhode Island schools, one voiced by state education commissioner Ken Wagner, is that schools here have a hodgepodge of curricula that vary widely in quality from district to district, and, in some cases, from school to school.



Emerging Iterations on State Free College Policy in the 2019 Legislative Sessions - By Sarah Pingel, Education Commission of the States

State legislatures are officially in full swing, with 44 states plus the District of Columbia in session. At Education Commission of the States, we’re cleaning our glasses and diving into the thousands of pieces of education-related legislation spilling into our inboxes. Not surprisingly, free college maintains its position on state legislators’ minds. We are already tracking 45 pieces of legislation in 19 states plus the District of Columbia.

Massachusetts S.D. 1415 takes perhaps the broadest approach this year, stating simply that, “…the policy of the commonwealth [is] to guarantee free public higher education as a right for all residents.” However, most of these new proposals track closely with the historical trajectory of the movement. Proposals focused on eliminating tuition and fees for students matriculating directly from high school are currently in play in the District of Columbia (B. 23-0050), Mississippi (H.B. 72), South Carolina (H. 3214, S. 25) and Texas (H.B. 630, S.B. 32, S.B. 33), among others. 

Several proposals, however, are taking new approaches to define the student population eligible to benefit from free college policy. So far, we see states seeking to include the four-year public sector — a move which would presumably increase the price tag for a free college program. On the other end of the balance sheet, we see states limiting eligibility to specific localities or adding post-graduation residency or work requirements.

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