New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce


"This is a story about the big public conversation the nation is not having about education, whether an entire generation of kids will fail to make the grade in the global economy because they can't think their way through abstract problems, work in teams, distinguish good information from bad or speak a language other than English.

This week the conversation will burst onto the front page, when the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce, a high-powered, bipartisan assembly of Education Secretaries and business, government and other education leaders releases a blueprint for rethinking American education from pre-K to 12 and beyond to better prepare students to thrive in the global economy."

"Mike Eskew, CEO of UPS, talks about needing workers who are "global trade literate, sensitive to foreign cultures, conversant in different languages"-

"... premium on creative and innovative skills, seeing patterns where other people see only chaos," says Marc Tucker, an author of the skills-commission report and president of the National Center on Education and the Economy."

***** problem *******
"Developing good people skills. EQ, or emotional intelligence, is as important as IQ for success in today's workplace. "Most innovations today involve large teams of people," says former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine."
I didn't know anybody had proven that EQ exists. I'm not really comfortable with our institutionalized treatment of IQ.

Is it possible that this high powered group has problems with critical thinking?

"Can our public schools, originally designed to educate workers for agrarian life and industrial-age factories, make the necessary shifts?" I assume they are talking about our private institutions as well since the students there still "sit in chairs much as their grandfathers did and listen to teachers lecture."

"...organizations like the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Asia Society are pouring money and expertise into model programs to show the way."

Bill Gates spends ten thousand dollars a student. That's one way to skin a cat.

Then they say, use the IB curriculum. That's good because we will save untold dollars fooling around with figuring out what Johnny must know at every school district on the planet. Over. And over again.

Here's a classic. She had to . . . "learn the names of all the rivers in South America. That was the assignment given to Deborah Stipek's daughter Meredith in school, and her mom, who's dean of the Stanford University School of Education, was not impressed. "That's silly," Stipek told her daughter. "Tell your teacher that if you need to know anything besides the Amazon, you can look it up on Google."

How nice. You would think that the dean of an education department would not interfere in a way that demeans her daughter's teacher in front of the child. I wonder how she speaks of her colleagues? Furthermore I'll bet mom wouldn't be able to google the answer all that quickly. There is a LOT of luck involved with that kind of search.

"Last year, in response to demand from colleges, the Educational Testing Service unveiled a new, computer-based exam designed to measure information-and-communication-technology literacy. A pilot study of the test with 6,200 high school seniors and college freshmen found that only half could correctly judge the objectivity of a website."

What Time doesn't say is that the test uses an interface that is alien to the students and somewhat unsettling to use because it is not anything they have previously encountered. The other thing is that the results of the search are presented as summaries which gives them automatic authority in a student's eyes.

I have an idea. Since it will be difficult to raise the critical thinking level of the American citizenry in a rapid fashion, why not start by closing down Fox News? Then regulate religion in a way that causes dogma to adhere to a standard of reasonableness. Every religion would have to give up the crazy stuff and it might help people stay sane a while. Oh yeah, let gay people do what they want. And, um sew Hannity's lips shut.