by John Chubb
Everyone agrees that America’s high schools need to do a better job of preparing students to be “college- and career-ready.” But the big problem is, how do we get them to do that?
One state has just come up with a bold solution – and it could serve as a model for education reform throughout the entire country.
California recently passed a law that reduces the weight of standardized test scores for ranking high schools. Now, crucial factors like graduation rates, attendance and student advancement will play a larger role in grading the ability of public schools in preparing students to succeed after high school
This law is a big step in the right direction — and it paves the way for other states to pass similar reforms aimed at preparing students for college and beyond.
Why the change? Since 1999, every California public school has been granted an Academic Performance Index, or API, score based almost entirely on how its students fare on a handful of standardized tests. Other states are also similarly reliant upon test scores to evaluate their schools’ successes.
These scores help determine everything about a school’s future — whether it receives funding, whether parents can move their children to a better school, even whether home values rise or fall. So the pressure to get a high score is enormous.
The intention, of course, has been to hold schools accountable for their performance and to give them incentives to improve. The problem is that the system puts too much emphasis on tests that don’t necessarily predict how well a student will actually do after high school. In the end, students were being prepared to succeed on tests while they were in school, not to succeed beyond graduation.
Sure enough, a closer look at the numbers reveals that, when based primarily on these tests, a school’s API score can be an unreliable predictor of how well its students will perform in college. A 2012 study conducted by Education Sector found that one school with the relatively high API score of 778 out of 1,000 had a 91 percent graduation rate but sent just 66 percent of its students to college. Meanwhile, a school with a score of just 698 had a graduation rate of 95 percent and sent 86 percent of its students to college.
The API’s true shortcoming is revealed when the scores are applied to schools with a high proportion of low-income students. According to our study, three of the five high-poverty schools with the lowest API scores were among the top five overall in sending their graduates to college. And the school with the lowest API score had the highest postsecondary enrollment rate: 79 percent of its graduates in 2009 went on to a postsecondary institution, 5 percentage points above the state average.
Standardized test scores certainly provide one valid measure of student success. But it is clear that they are not entirely accurate in measuring whether students are really ready for life after high school.
And this problem has serious real-world consequences. Only 25 percent of high school students taking common college entrance exams in California are deemed college- and career-ready. And two out of every five college students must take remedial classes for basic skills before they can qualify for credit-bearing work. Our nation’s high schools have been failing to provide the requisite tools for students before sending them out the door.
The new law does much to fix how California ranks its schools. It ensures that, as of 2016, test scores can count for no more than 60 percent of a school’s API score, and it says that the state superintendent must add graduation rates and measures of college- and career-preparedness to the mix.
The reality of today’s economy is that students must start preparing for life beyond high school from the moment they enter a freshman classroom. It’s our job to make sure that our high schools are helping them do just that.
If we want America’s students to arrive at college ready for postsecondary work, then we must improve our country’s systems for evaluating high schools. California just put forward a great model for reform. What we need now is for the rest of the country to follow.
John Chubb is CEO of Education Sector, an independent think tank, and is a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.
by Bill Johnson, Executive Director, Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin, Inc. (UEDA)
Two words have become prevalent in southeastern Wisconsin lately – skills gap. We are seeing it reported in the news, discussed by educational institutions and made the priority of local employers. We’ve also seen numerous reports, including by Tim Sullivan, Competitive Wisconsin, Inc. and The Public Policy Forum. These reports, studies and initiatives have provided in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the statewide workforce system. Now, we must develop real, tangible and actionable solutions to implement on the ground to address the problem we all know exists.
Individually, we have done a great job of identifying the need for a solution. I believe that for real change to occur and the skills gap to be addressed, the solution needs to be the result of leaders coming together and collectively creating an environment that fosters an open exchange of ideas. Established employers, entrepreneurs, small business owners and education and training representatives all have a role in addressing the complex issue of maximizing the inherent skills of jobseekers at all levels.
As opposed to recommending a “cure” for what ails our workforce development system, we need to engage in a dialogue that will focus on developing strategies that will lead to increased collaboration between and among the various workforce development partners that are already doing great things to address the skills gap. We must go beyond finger pointing and casting of blame and instead focus our energy on action steps that will forge more creative approaches that will drive hiring, support our struggling entrepreneurs and make the region more business friendly.
Previous Urban Economic Development Association (UEDA) summits were focused on action. This year’s 11th Annual Summit, addressing the skills gap, will be no different. On November 8th, key stakeholders will come together with members of the community to discuss actions that are already underway and having an impact, brainstorm new strategies for further progress and come together on the most efficient way to maximize resources in our workforce system. Urban issues expert Carol Coletta, an accomplished city visionary and sought after national speaker, will help give a national perspective to our discussion, offering insights about Milwaukee and trends in other cities like ours.
We are issuing a call to action for those who want to be a part of the solution to our workforce challenges. To join us, visit,www.uedawi.org or call (414)562-9904.
Employers reluctant to hire ‘citizen-soldiers’
by Chris Kenning, The (Louisville) Courier-Journal
Louisville — More than nine months after returning from a second deployment to Iraq, Kentucky National Guard Lt. David Doggette has been struggling to translate his broad military experience — ranging from driving a tank to leading a platoon — into a good civilian job.
Doggette, a 30-year-old from Park City, Ky. who wants a career in safety management, said finding a job in the tight labor market is made more difficult by his long deployments away from the workforce — and the possibility of more to come.
“Everybody’s been very quick to thank me for my service, and nobody’s saying outright they’re worried about (future) deployment — but it’s definitely an undercurrent,” he said.
Unemployment for veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars remains a problem, even more so or National Guard members who juggle jobs and repeated deployments.
Although still higher than the overall jobless rate of 7.8%, the unemployment rate for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans dropped to 9.7% in September, down from 11.7% a year earlier, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The Kentucky Guard’s “citizen soldiers” — who, unlike former active-duty troops, face the added difficulty of having to hold down jobs while being deployed overseas for what is often a year at a time — had a jobless rate last month of 16.3%, according to Guard figures..
Ross Cohen, senior director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring our Heroes program, which has held about 100 job fairs, said there’s an array of new programs to help.
They range from Guard outreach directly to employers to job fairs put on by veterans groups, politicians and local workforce agencies.
One problem being addressed is showing vets how to bridge a “communication gap” as they try to translate their military skills into experience that employers can see will make them good employees.
Employers “need to know that you also learn to work well in teams, give and take orders, (can) be accountable for millions of dollars of equipment and respond to changing circumstances,” Cohen said.
Ted Daywalt, president of the Georgia-based group VetJobs, said it’s a national problem. While recent veterans are increasingly finding work, National Guard members — whose part-time role differs from full-time, active-duty troops, but who in the past decade have been mobilized at record levels — have faced steeper challenges.
Though few will openly admit it, “a lot of employers are reluctant to hire them,” said Daywalt, noting that many will volunteer for another deployment to help pay bills at home. “We get thousands of calls a month, and easily 40 to 50% of them are in the National Guard.”
Young buyers are inching back into the new-vehicle market after several years on the sidelines, helped by easing credit and a slightly improving job market.
“Younger buyers have returned to market at a higher rate than any other age category,” according to a recent report by J.D. Power and Associates’ Power Information Network.
The young buyer group from teen years through age 35 is a hefty 23% of so-called retail buyers, the highest since 2008, according to Power. The retail sales category excludes multiple-vehicle sales to fleet buyers, such as rental-car and taxi companies.
Data from Polk, which tracks new-vehicle registrations, not sales, found a similar trend, showing buyers ages 18 through 34 are 12% of all new-vehicle registrations from January through July this year, the highest since 16.4% in 2007.
Power’s Thomas King, a senior director, says that high used car values could be helping younger buyers who have something to trade-in or sell. Credit is also easier to get, and “We are also seeing growth in longer-term loans, 72 months and over,” which reduces monthly payments, he says.
Long loans, however, can lock buyers into long ownership. It takes years before the loan balance is less than the value of the car, delaying the next purchase.
Still, the rebound is huge for car companies, which depend on an influx of youthful customers as their lifeblood. Younger shoppers don’t buy high-profit vehicles,at first, but if they can be well-served and kept loyal, automakers believe they’ll move up to very profitable models as they get older and richer.
Big gainers with young buyers: Hyundai and Kia. Polk says together they had 11% of the new-vehicle registrations by young buyers, up from just 5% in 2007. European makers, mainly Volkswagen, also grew, edging up to 4%.
New America Media, Commentary, Earl Ofari Hutchinson
In an apparent off the cuff remark, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan gushed that he thought it was a “cool thing” that an African-American was president. But Ryan’s rapture with President Obama didn’t last past the first sentence. In the next breath he quickly added that he didn’t like much else about Obama. The much else was how Obama has spent on health, education and job development programs that would help the poor and minorities. That spending has been fiscal heresy for Ryan.
His savage cost cutting plan is well-known. He’d cut tens of billions from Medicaid and Medicare, and more than a trillion from everything from food stamps to welfare over the next decade. The Ryan slash and burn plan mercifully hasn’t happened during his tenure as House Budget Committee Chair. But as Vice President Ryan, he would be in a commanding position to make his cost cutting plan a nightmare come true for the poor and minorities.
The key to that is winning the vice-presidency. In distant times past, the vice-presidency was little more than a ceremonial, title-leaden position that carried little authority, and almost no power to make, shape or change public policy. Presidential candidates picked vice-presidents mostly to shore up their perceived political or ideological weakness, be it sectionalism, inexperience, image, or on domestic or foreign policy expertise. The VP was there to balance a ticket, and help a presidential contender win, and nothing more. But that was in the distant past.
The vice presidential pick has morphed into a high stakes game in the evolution of presidential politics. The VP is now much more than just a standard dressing up of the presidential ticket. He or she must be able to actually help a presidential candidate win first and foremost, or at worse not help him lose. There were times in past elections when VPs have made a difference. Lyndon Johnson in 1960 is the textbook example of that. He brought legislative savvy, he was a Southern then still in good stead, and he could deliver two or three Deep South states. He did his job. Bush Sr. also helped Reagan in 1980. He brought experience, insider connections, and as a transplanted Southerner, the regional balance that Reagan needed. And he was moderate enough to give Reagan a little edge with moderate Republicans. But the vice-president has become much more than that.
A vice president is now directly involved in discussing, implementing and even helping to formulate domestic and foreign policy. Vice-Presidents chair presidential committees and commissions. They are consulted and make recommendations on major policy decisions and changes. They are often the hit men on controversial policy issues and during elections they are on the campaign trail to say what the president often can’t say. Clinton’s VP Al Gore and Bush’s VP Dick Cheney played the role of advisor and point man on key issues. Obama VP Joe Biden plays the same role. In any case, the VP is now often right in the center of presidential politics and the national political debate.
Ryan would be even more at the center of that debate and decision making. He was picked in large part not to balance the Romney ticket, but because of his budget hammering big stick. A Romney White House will not only listen to him, but rely heavily on him on policy decisions involving spending slashes, almost all of it involving crucial domestic programs.
This would come at the worst possible time for the poor and minorities. The poor are not only getting poorer, they are also more numerous than any time in the last half-century and have slipped even further behind in wealth and income disparities. Other reports repeatedly confirm that a disproportionate number of the poor are blacks and Hispanics. The single biggest reason for their plunge downward is the relentless pecking away at federal spending on enhancement programs in health care, education, job and skills training, and the massive cutbacks and downsizing in the public employment sector.
This has been coupled with a colossal leap in the fortunes of the rich and major corporations. Their wealth bounty has soared through a benign and porous tax and regulatory system that has given the taxpayer company store away to them. The Ryan plan would be a dream come true for them. It would shove out even more of the tax cut bounty to the wealthiest, and do absolutely nothing to insure that any of the tax cut giveaway go toward investment in new job creation. The cuts would leave the tattered safety net for the poor in even greater tatters. It doesn’t take a soothsayer to predict that the number of poor will skyrocket even more under the Ryan plan.
Ryan knows he’s in a commanding position. He told an interviewer during the Republican presidential candidate’s debates that all the Republican candidates believed his plan was the best plan for the country. Tea Party Express leader Amy Kremer was in delirium in stating that selecting Ryan “proved” Romney was committed to their draconian economic hatchet plan. Unfortunately for the poor, in a Romney White House VP Ryan could make that nightmare happen.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent political commentator on MSNBC and a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.
At stake is the direction we as a nation move in on job creation, education, healthcare, the economy and too many other issues that affect our daily lives and future.
But over the next 83 days, campaigns, parties, and super-pacs will be on a “hundred-thousand-trillion”, while many of our organizations and people will allow others to lead during this time of crisis.
There are however, many that are taking this crisis diagnoisis seriously, and in response have called a Code Red Strategy and Action Conference. Faith leaders, congregants, and concerned citizens will gather in Baltimore this week to learn how to and be certified to register voters, connect evangelism and mobilization, receive tech tools to protect voters and develop election-day plans.
This conference which is being called by the Empowerment Movement will be this Thursday through Saturday and will have the likes of Roland Martin, Bishop Vashti McKenzie, Rev. Freddie Haynes and myself providing strategy recommendations. But the real meat of the work will come from professionals like Barbara R. Arnwine of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, who will breakdown the attack on our voter rights and what we can do to hit back.
Family, this work is essential because the black church has an opportunity to be the difference maker, not just in this election, but in serving as the institution that serves more than its congregants, but truly the communities in which they reside.
Many churches have stayed back from political engagement because of the attacks by the IRS on their 501© 3 status. Others debate if the church can be the force we need it to be politically.
Barbara Dianne Savage, a brilliant scholar at UPenn stated in her book, “Your Spirit Walks Beside Us: The Politics of Black Religion”: “In the first half of the twentieth century, the dominant political narratives treated African-American religion with despair and disdain.
The emergence in the late 1950s of a Southern civil rights movement with churches, church people, and church culture at its center was a powerful and startling departure from that story, rather than a natural progression. In many ways, the movement is best thought of not as an inevitable triumph or a moment of religious revival, but simply as a miracle. It was brief, bold, and breathtaking, difficult to replicate or sustain, and experienced firsthand by only a small remnant of true believers.”
Perhaps that is why we so lift up those times and all that many people of faith worked to change in America. But now is not the time for debate on this history of black faith activism.
Now is the time to live what we want to next chapter to be. For more info or to participate in the free Code Red Conference go to www.Empowermentmovement.org<http://www.Empowermentmovement.org> if you want to do it your way…DO IT. We are all together.
The black church is as diverse as the black community that makes up its congregants and their political views are equally as diverse. Regardless of your political affiliation, shouldn’t we and not a party or campaign be the front line of voter registration, education, GOTV, and protection? It’s Code Red time, family. Will you be part of the team that sits back in crisis or the one that shows up? Your Call. As Always, I’m Jeff Johnson and that’s my truth. –Commentary by Political and Social Commentator Jeff Johnson, courtesy of BlackAmericaweb.com.
Come and celebrate the hiring season for full and part-time seasonal job opportunities during at “JobFest 2012” being held at the Grand Avenue Mall Thursday, Aug. 2 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Mall’s Center Court. The Grand Avenue is located at 275 W. Wisconsin Ave. Attendees are asked to enter the mall through the main entrance at Wisconsin and Third Street.
JobFest is an active hiring event and consists of only employers with immediate hiring needs. Some of the companies participating in the event are The Marcus Corporation, FedEx Smart Post, Interfaith Personal Care Plus, One Stop Wireless, (Version), Boston Store and more. There will also be resources on transportation, education and the Wisconsin Job Center.
JobFest is sponsored by Interfaith Wisconsin’s Seasonal Workforce Coalition. The Coalition is a group of employers and community-based workforce agencies working together to coordinate 2,000-plus seasonal employment opportunities across the calendar year.
For more information about the event, contact Shannon Gallagher at [email protected] or call 414-220-8696.
The Center for Veterans Issues Ltd., Milwaukee , Wis. , receives $300,000 grant
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor today awarded 90 grants totaling more than $20 million to fund job training and support services that will help more than 11,000 veterans succeed in civilian careers. The grants are being awarded through the department’s Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program.
“Americans who have served their country should not find themselves without a home,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “The grants announced today will help these heroes find good jobs and take us one step closer to the goal of ending veteran homelessness altogether.”
The Volunteers of America Greater Ohio center located in Columbus , Ohio received $300,000 and the Ohio Valley Goodwill Industries Rehab Center Inc. located in Cincinnati , Ohio also received $300,000.
The grants announced today are second- and third-year awards to state and local workforce investment boards, local public agencies and nonprofit organizations – including faith-based and community organizations – that demonstrated satisfactory performance during the past year. All 90 grants are awarded through the HVRP program, with some of the grants specifically set aside to serve formerly incarcerated veterans, and homeless female veterans and veterans with families. The grant recipients are familiar with the areas and populations they are serving.
Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program grants provide occupational, classroom and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance, including follow-up services. Grantees are expected to maximize available assistance and find good jobs for veterans by coordinating efforts and resources with the U.S. departments of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Health and Human Services, as well as other national, state and local agencies in accordance with the VA’s five-year plan to end homelessness for veterans and their families.
In June, Secretary Solis announced the award of 64 grants through the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. Those grants – which are separate from the 90 receiving funds today – are first-year awards totaling more than $15 million and aimed at providing about 8,600 homeless veterans nationwide with job training.
More information on the Department of Labor’s unemployment and re-employment programs for veterans can be found at http://www.dol.gov/vets.
(BlackDoctor.org) — Putting in long hours at the office may help achieve satisfaction at your job, but a new body of evidence indicates that working 10 or 11 hours a day substantially increases the risk of serious heart problems, as opposed to clocking out after seven hours.
The finding, which was published in the European Heart Journal, found that individuals who regularly work beyond “the normal, seven-hour day” were up 60 percent more likely to suffer from heart-related conditions compared with those who didn’t work that amount of overtime — even after factors such as age, weight and smoking that affect the heart were ruled out.
According to the data from a long-term investigation into the health of more than 10,000 London office workers aged between 39 and 61 over 11 years, the possibility of overworking affecting the heart occurs after working between three and four hours extra a day.
The researchers said there could be a number of explanations for the possible link between overtime and heart problems.
These include undiagnosed high blood pressure, stress, sleep deprivation, anxiety or depression, and being a “Type A” personality who is highly driven, aggressive or irritable. Employees who work overtime may also be likely to work while ill.
It is possible to be successful at work and not become blighted by long, stressful hours. The key is to work smarter, not longer.
Here are a few tips to help slow down your inner workaholic:
• Require downtime. One of the theories as to why overtime work can increase one’s risk of coronary heart disease presented by this study’s authors was that people don’t get adequate downtime after work when they’re working 12-hour days, which inhibits their ability to de-stress and get over workplace anxiety.
Schedule short breaks throughout the day and allow some time to relax after returning home.
•Take care of yourself. It is impossible to have a productive day if you feel sick, tired or depressed. That’s because all of the facets of a healthy person — a healthy diet, getting plenty of sleep, exercising, keeping stress to a minimum — apply also to a productive person. When you feel good you will have the energy, mental capacity and desire to work efficiently.
•Stress. Relieving stress in your life can be one of the most challenging aspects, as we’re all faced with it daily. Relaxation can help to calm your mind, soothe your emotions and create a state of deep relaxation in your body, to help you fall asleep faster and feel more rested in the morning.
•Organize and prioritize. Make a “To-Do List” of all your tasks for the day. If a task is large, break it down into smaller, manageable ones and list them separately. Once you have all your tasks down, prioritize them.
•Organize your workspace. Keep your desk and work area free from clutter. File papers that you don’t need regularly, and throw away those that you won’t need again. A good tip is to organize your desk at the end of each day so it’s ready to go in the morning.
•Figure out your best work mode. Do you work best in the morning, afternoon or late at night? Do you need silence or does music help you concentrate? Do you think better sitting at your desk or taking a walk? Answering these types of questions can help you make the most of your day. For most people, the morning is when they work most efficiently. If this applies to you, get started on the most complex, thought-intensive projects first thing, and save the easier tasks for later in the day.
•Stay positive. If you have a tough day at work or feel you didn’t get all that you should have done, don’t worry. Everyone has these days, and the more you fret about them the worse it will make you feel.
• Make doctor visits as important as staff meetings. Although overtime workers in this study appeared healthy (they exercised, ate right, and got the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night), they were also less likely to take sick days, which suggests they could be ignoring symptoms of heart disease and not getting adequate preventive care. Make sure you get annual checkups, stick to a healthy diet, and don’t smoke or drink excessively.
By Brittany Gatson, BDO Staff Writer