Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Education & Employment News Roundup


Today JFNYC digs deep into its list of recent articles about education and employment that you may have overlooked.

  • Education is crucial to a skilled workforce, but are we teaching the right skills?  
  • Higher math -- required knowledge or roadblock?
  • Does everyone need to go to college?  
  • Can certificates be a viable alternative to a degree for a young person?  
  • How can online technology provide free or low-cost education and training for tomorrow's workforce?

Read on for answers to these and other questions:

Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say (New York Times, Feb. 9)
Analyses of long-term data published in recent months finds that while the achievement gap between white and black students has narrowed significantly over the past few decades, the gap between rich and poor students has grown substantially during the same period.

Is Algebra Necessary? (New York Times, July 28)
In both high school and college, all too many students are expected to fail algebra.  To our nation’s shame, one in four ninth graders fail to finish high school, with algebra cited as the major academic reason. The City University of New York found that 57 percent of its students didn’t pass its mandated algebra course. The depressing conclusion of a faculty report: “failing math at all levels affects retention more than any other academic factor.”  Why do we subject American students to this ordeal?

The Case of the Missing Skills (New York Times, May 21)
More than half of American employers reported having difficulty filling positions because of a lack of suitable skills in 2010, one of the highest shares for developed countries.

How Certificates Can Lift Income (New York Times, June 6)
For some people, certificates can be viable alternatives to a full-blown college degree. The median earnings of people who hold certificates are 20 percent higher than the median earnings of workers who go no further than a high school diploma. If certificate holders work in the field in which they earn the certificate, their median income is just 4 percent less than the median income of associate degree holders.

Open Education for a Global Economy (New York Times, July 11)
A website called ALISON offers some 400 vocational courses at “certificate level” (1 to 2 hours of study) or “diploma level” (about 9 to 11 hours of study) and plans to add 600 more in the coming year. Its most popular course, ABC IT, is a 15- to 20-hour training suite that covers similar ground to the widely recognized International Computer Driving License curriculum. (ALISON’s certification is free; ICDL certification can cost over $500). Other popular offerings are project management, accounting, customer service, human resources, Microsoft Excel, health studies, basic study skills, operations management and psychology.

Elite Colleges Transform Online Higher Education (The Huffington Post, August 6) 
From Harvard to Stanford, a growing number of elite universities are throwing open their digital doors to the masses. They're offering their most popular courses online for no charge, allowing anyone with an Internet connection to learn from world-renowned scholars and scientists.  The proliferation of so-called massive open online courses, or MOOCs, has the potential to transform higher education.


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