Skip

Creating the Future of Education and Work
September 15, 2011 11:03 AM   Subscribe

In February 2011, every teacher in Providence, Rhode Island was pink slipped. Not all 1,926 of them got fired, of course, but with the district facing a $40 million deficit, anything is possible. The district says it needs flexibility, just in case. Every school district in the United States faces its own version of what’s happening in Providence. However, “IMAGINATION: Creating the Future of Education and Work” is focused not on how we got here but rather how we can move forward from here immediately even as the education system continues to struggle.

Americans are currently faced with a shortage of jobs, but by 2018 the nation will be faced with a shortage of educated workers. This project began in Louisiana, where 100,000 skilled labor jobs are currently unfilled. If the future workforce continues to be trained for the past, particularly as other countries look ahead, Americans will no longer be globally competitive as the domestic economy and infrastructure continue to collapse. Science, technology, engineering and mathematics, also known as STEM, are the acknowledged focal point of the skill set required for the 21st century.
posted by netbros (49 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
LOOKING FORWARD NEVER BACK AND ALWAYS TWIRLING TWIRLING TO VICTORY
posted by fartron at 11:11 AM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


Those who only look forward are doomed to repeat it.
posted by DU at 11:13 AM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


If the future workforce continues to be trained for the past, particularly as other countries look ahead, Americans will no longer be globally competitive as the domestic economy and infrastructure continue to collapse.

No amount of looking-forward education will rescue American jobs as long as there are adequately-trained workers elsewhere at 1/4 the price.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:14 AM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]



No amount of looking-forward education will rescue American jobs as long as there are adequately-trained workers elsewhere at 1/4 the price.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:14 AM on September 15 [+] [!]


Well you might need to make some political/economic choices as well.
"Don't bother getting an education, our jobs are going overseas anyway" isn't a particularly constructive attitude.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:22 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Businesses could always hire entry level employees and train them for their positions.
posted by drezdn at 11:22 AM on September 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


I'm waiting for this to become the norm: Employee costs too high? Lay EVERYONE OFF! Then re-hire them for less money and no seniority. No one will mind or notice. Disgruntled employees are productive employees. And keep those pesky gummint reg-a-lashuns off my business.

I seriously think a few revoked corporate charters of a few scumbag companies could result in proper change for the US in general. Start with BP and Halliburton. If corporations have the same rights as people in the political realm, then start giving them the same death penalty.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 11:27 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


... revoked corporate charters ...

Does anyone know when the last time a corporate charter was revoked?
posted by odinsdream at 11:31 AM on September 15, 2011


"Don't bother getting an education, our jobs are going overseas anyway" isn't a particularly constructive attitude.

Neither is "Hey, kids, go into science and math!" when there aren't likely to be a ton of jobs for them when they're done.

Anyway, I wasn't saying "Don't bother getting an education." I was more trying to say "Don't put all your eggs in one basket." Any education plan built for America's real future is going to have to include training/jobs for the much larger portion of the populace who aren't going to be able to make it in the sciences or math. Otherwise, you're just building a future for a small elite and leaving the rest twisting in the wind for work and a living wage. Or working at one big-ass call center.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:36 AM on September 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Hang on here, you guys. In Rhode Island they have to pink slip you preemptively (dare I "proactively"?) just in case they actually lay you off later in the year in order to avoid penalties. I can't recall if it's their contract or statewide unemployment law.

As a result, lots of towns in Rhodey pink-slip a whole bunch of teachers in the early months of the year and then, as the budget shapes up and enrollment numbers become clearer, they hire them back. My town added a teacher the Friday of the first week of school, and other teachers were swapping classrooms (and schools! and grades!) the very last week before classes started.

It's crazy, and as a parent -- who would like to get to know my kids' teachers -- and a taxpayer -- who would like to believe that the School Department budget better than this -- it makes me angry.
posted by wenestvedt at 11:38 AM on September 15, 2011




It's crazy, and as a parent -- who would like to get to know my kids' teachers -- and a taxpayer -- who would like to believe that the School Department budget better than this -- it makes me angry.


What's more, as a person with a job, it makes me furious. You can't treat your workforce like that.
posted by Stagger Lee at 11:45 AM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


No amount of looking-forward education will rescue American jobs as long as there are adequately-trained workers elsewhere at 1/4 the price.

Luckily they are bad at English.
posted by smackfu at 11:48 AM on September 15, 2011


(Except the guys in Argentina, watch out for them.)
posted by smackfu at 11:48 AM on September 15, 2011


The problem with improving STEM education is that there's stiff competition for too-few jobs in S and M as it is. (There is no such thing as the math-industrial complex, and an undergrad bio degree pretty much only qualifies you to be a lab tech.)

I vote for changing the acronym to ET.
posted by miyabo at 11:50 AM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


I like how everyone here in RI likes to hiss through their teeth about unions, when the real problem is deep-seated corruption and cronyism in the state and local government robbing the coffers bare.
posted by Slap*Happy at 11:51 AM on September 15, 2011


In Rhode Island they have to pink slip you preemptively (dare I "proactively"?) just in case they actually lay you off later in the year in order to avoid penalties. I can't recall if it's their contract or statewide unemployment law.

I'm pretty sure it's a state law, but it could also be in the contact. Teachers much be notified by March 1st of any potential change in job status, so the pink slips were sort of a budgetary CYA by Tavares.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:53 AM on September 15, 2011


"In February 2011, every teacher in Providence, Rhode Island was pink slipped" .... As mentioned above, this is not an unusual practice for school systems country wide. Very common in Michigan for large numbers to be pink slipped in the spring and many, if not most, called back before the school year starts.

That first sentence had little to do with the rest of the FPP....and was a bit misleading.
posted by tomswift at 11:54 AM on September 15, 2011


No amount of looking-forward education will rescue American jobs as long as there are adequately-trained workers elsewhere at 1/4 the price.

I understand what you mean, but it's not quite that simple. Other factors come into play like direct labor content as a percentage of total cost, quality control / product reliability and marketing.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:10 PM on September 15, 2011


Yup, it's the same in California: districts are REQUIRED BY LAW to give you pink slips in Spring, or they cannot let you go later. Most years, it's just the really new teachers who get pink-slipped. Last year, the majority of teachers at my wife's high school got pink slips, including tenured teachers (I think - it's been a while).

The issue is not only budget, but enrollment. Is your district in a moderately affluent area? Chances are that enrollment went down, as families moved to less expensive areas. Is your district in an area where there is one main employer or job type? How are they doing? Oh, they downsized? Another drop in enrollment.

On one hand, it wears on you to get a pink slip, year after year, until you get tenured, and maybe even after that. But it gives you sufficient notice to find work elsewhere, if you're worried about being hired back. And schools need flexibility, especially when they have to send out pink slips while school is still in session.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:13 PM on September 15, 2011


So they are basically giving their best and brightest teachers (who are also the most hire-able) notice or at least an excuse to find employment elsewhere. That sounds like a good plan.
posted by VTX at 12:27 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Other factors come into play like direct labor content as a percentage of total cost, quality control / product reliability and marketing.

Actually, quality control and product reliability do not enter into the decision making process at all. On more than one occasion I have seen my employer send projects overseas, roll their eyes when it comes back poorly functional or non-functional, then send it out to a DIFFERENT overseas team and think it will be better.
posted by Billiken at 12:36 PM on September 15, 2011


Neither is "Hey, kids, go into science and math!" when there aren't likely to be a ton of jobs for them when they're done.

Why is this? There are lots of jobs in applied quantitative fields, just not pure math or academic roles. "Math" in the STEM discussion shouldn't read as "algebraic geometry, group theory" it should read "statistics, linear algebra, discrete math". Most undergrad programs in science aren't thought of as vocational training in the way engineering programs are, but they could be. There are tight analogues of most science majors in large engineering programs, but smaller institutions that don't have those tracks funnel student who would be bio-engineering or chem-engineering into biology and chemistry. There aren't going to be lots of academic and basic research science jobs, but there can be a retooling of science training at many institutions to be more explicitly vocational and skill-based (or to have that option at least).

On more than one occasion I have seen my employer send projects overseas, roll their eyes when it comes back poorly functional or non-functional, then send it out to a DIFFERENT overseas team and think it will be better.

Irrational behavior can stick around a long time. Over and above any difference in actual work-product, the US can remain a competitive place to do many tasks at higher cost because of our relatively well-functioning legal system and the utility of dense concentrations of competent workers. Relative is the key word there.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:46 PM on September 15, 2011


FYI everyone, the links are not about the pink-slipping practice.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:53 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]




FYI everyone, the links are not about the pink-slipping practice.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 12:53 PM on September 15 [+] [!]


Yet the lead in sure is.
posted by Stagger Lee at 1:03 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Admitting that I didn't read every single page (because some of them made me blind), it looks like someone's recommending that education should be industrialized (charter schools), so that we can better educate kids to serve industry. Jesus...what a terrible idea.

Can we really so readily forget that corporate interests are why the government can't fund education now? They're also why most US children don't have stay-at-home parents, excepting involuntarily unemployed parents. Corporations are amoral. Why, why would we want to make childhood education a function of those interests, instead of refocusing our efforts on developing whole, happy, ethical people who are also, coincidentally, productive? To answer the problems that a corporatocracy created by indoctrinating children to serve corporations is just doubling down on a rigged game.
posted by diorist at 1:14 PM on September 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


I know someone who is a teacher in RI and got the pink slip. So he got another job.

Then he got a phone call about showing up for the new school year orientation. This was the first he'd heard that he was going to be rehired - not even a message that he'd been rehired, just a 'new school year orientation and assignments are going to be at this date, show up'. This was in late August. He thanked them but he'd gotten a new job and would not be able to attend, thank you. He hadn't moved, he had the same phone number. It turned out that they'd sent out messages to people on the school's internal email system... which his access to had been cancelled with the end-of-year layoff.

Their system seems to need... work.
posted by mephron at 1:29 PM on September 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Metafilter: stiff competition for too-few jobs in S and M
posted by polymath at 1:31 PM on September 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


How come the links about supporting education and the education of the future hardly ever, ever seem to be supporting funding schools or mention teachers unions (or as far as it appears attempt to interact with them)?
posted by ejaned8 at 1:33 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


stiff competition for too-few jobs in S and M

I thought we were trying to reduce the number of abusive work places.
posted by Phalene at 1:55 PM on September 15, 2011


How come the links about supporting education and the education of the future hardly ever, ever seem to be supporting funding schools or mention teachers unions (or as far as it appears attempt to interact with them)?

Because a school and a union of teachers still needs a curriculum, and there's disagreement over what things to teach and how best to teach them.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:17 PM on September 15, 2011


Yeah, in my district they laid off a couple of hundred teachers, spent many, many hours (with the union) creating a re-hire priority list, then rehired every single person on the list. It's complete insanity.
posted by Huck500 at 2:23 PM on September 15, 2011


Oh, but don't forget the Tea Party talking point... teachers are impossible to fire.
posted by Huck500 at 2:24 PM on September 15, 2011


We have too many prisoners and overpaid teachers. Obviously the solution is to use one problem to solve the other, and have prisoners be used as teachers. That way prisoners learn a skill, and school districts save money that can be put into more high-level administrators. Everybody wins!

Of course this MIGHT constitute "cruel and unusual punishment", but we'll burn that bridge when we come to it.
posted by happyroach at 2:36 PM on September 15, 2011


Admitting that I didn't read every single page (because some of them made me blind), it looks like someone's recommending that education should be industrialized (charter schools), so that we can better educate kids to serve industry. Jesus...what a terrible idea.

Almost every page is about using technology and virtual environments to make education more of a creative, relevent endeavor. That useful skills come from that seems like a good thing. One page is about charters, and includes plenty of notes about what can go wrong. Their take seems to focus on charters as supplemental labs.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 3:01 PM on September 15, 2011


Public employees salaries and pension benefits have become non sustainable a long time ago. Teachers and police officers can make over 6 figures. After 20 years of work they can retire with 60% of their salary, averaged over the last 3 years. Great benefits but unsustainable. It is really a no brainer.

See also MISH.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 3:26 PM on September 15, 2011


Public employees salaries and pension benefits have become non sustainable a long time ago. Teachers and police officers can make over 6 figures. After 20 years of work they can retire with 60% of their salary, averaged over the last 3 years. Great benefits but unsustainable. It is really a no brainer.

See also MISH.


I'm gonna have to call bullshit. It is sustainable in any system that values teachers and cops and public servants. It is sustainable when a society has a sufficient and stable middle class, and everyone pays their taxes.

This is a matter of priorities, not paychecks.

Also, "some" teachers and cops can make 6 figures is pretty vague. I bet "most" teachers and cops make half that. "Some" CEOs make 8 figures - I don't see a lot of bitching about that. Again, priorities.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 3:56 PM on September 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


Or... How about not spending so much money on keeping a misguided war going on in the middle east, and spend it domestically on education and other vital public services. I'm sure more Americans would benefit from even $1,000,000 spent in the education sector, than on bombs to blow up posible twrrorwists..
posted by Merlin The Happy Pig at 5:29 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It's crazy, and as a parent -- who would like to get to know my kids' teachers -- and a taxpayer -- who would like to believe that the School Department budget better than this -- it makes me angry."

By law and contract we must notify our teachers by March 1 if we're pink-slipping them.

The state does not provide even an ESTIMATE of our next year's budget until June 30, and that's if they finish on time, which they typically don't. (Whether the state ever actually pays us is a different question. They've been $9 million behind on our state aid payments. We had to borrow money to make payroll!)

It's awfully difficult to budget for teacher salaries when the bulk of your budget (only around 30% of ours is from local property taxes) isn't settled until four months after you're required to let them know if they're released.

I'm in Illinois.

"So they are basically giving their best and brightest teachers (who are also the most hire-able) notice or at least an excuse to find employment elsewhere. That sounds like a good plan."

Pretty much. It sucks balls, for us trying to build a highly-talented teacher force and for the poor teachers and their families having to live with the uncertainty.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:59 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Teachers and police officers can make over 6 figures.
Absurd. In my little corner of the woods, school district superintendents don't even make six figures. Teachers have to have 30 years in to make half that. And when they do they are threatened with furloughs unless they take early retirement, so the distrcit can hire some kid out of college for half of that.
posted by tommyD at 6:03 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Some" CEOs make 8 figures - I don't see a lot of bitching about that.

I bet most don't even make half that
posted by any major dude at 6:24 PM on September 15, 2011


I read an interesting article a few months ago (maybe at Education Next though I can't do a search for it just now) that talked about this pink slip/re-hire cycle. Its focus was on how the media deals with it: tending to report with big scary headlines in the spring about "half of teachers in town X laid off" but not following up in August with "98% of laid-off teachers re-hired for new school year," thus contributing to a public perception of school cutbacks and financial crises being worse than they really are.

I get that to links are not about the pink-slipping issue, but honestly I found that website too much work for not enough content--click here for one paragraph and a video, click there for one more paragraph. Is there anything there of particular value that I should be sure to look at?
posted by not that girl at 6:24 PM on September 15, 2011


How about not spending so much money on keeping a misguided war going on in the middle east, and spend it domestically on education and other vital public services.

because it's much easier to funnel public money into private hands during a war. Now if someone can just figure out how to get all that public money spent on education into private hands...
posted by any major dude at 6:26 PM on September 15, 2011


There is no world view in which any ordinary-ish cop should be making five times minimum wage, i.e. six figures. Cops are important but fundamentally they're simply thugs with some modicrum of social conscience, i.e. fairly easily replaceable. A police chief who examines crime statistics, a forensic scientists who handles laboratory work, or a succesful detective, might all be worth six figures, but just some cop, no way.

Teachers are otoh exactly as valuable as society makes them. There is an awful lot of bullshit in education research, but valid results exist as well. Anyone capable of following the difference will cost six figures. Yet conversely babysitters are usually rather cheap.
posted by jeffburdges at 7:21 PM on September 15, 2011


I've probably mentioned this before, but there is a FANTASTIC teacher at my son's school who teaches AP Calculus and Pre-Calc. Here's how good she is: every single kid who took her class passed the AP test last year. And she's leaving, because she and her husband divorced, and she can't live on her salary alone now. She's going to start in nursing. She's been teaching for 12 years, but she will make much more as a starting nurse than she does teaching.

I want her to stay. Everyone whose kids have had her wants her to stay. And I am perfectly willing to pay higher property taxes for education.

But we have a large population of retirees. Their kids are grown, they're done. Most of them came here from other states, so their kids didn't go to school here anyway. We don't have local or state income tax, and only a 6% sales tax, so property taxes have to go a long way. And they don't want to pay higher taxes for education. It's more than that, reallly: many of them don't want to pay higher taxes for anything.

So they join the Teabaggers* who are holding, in one week, a big protest over raising our millage rate, which is one of the lowest in the state as it is. Never mind that our emergency services, firemen, paramedics and policemen are services they will use which will also be affected. Or that our libraries are directly threatened with closing if they don't get more money next year, too. They say the local government should have to make do with less. They say times are tough, and people have lost their jobs, you know. Yes, that's why our local government already had to lay people off and cut way back on staff. And they'll have to lay off more, or get rid of some of those libraries now. Ironically, you will cost more people their jobs because you, who have been retired for 10 years, don't want to pay an additional $100 a year.

Sorry about the rant. It's really, really depressing to me.


*I actually got an email asking me to join them. How they got my name, I don't know--hello, I'm a former educator and a liberal democrat! I wrote back to ask what their alternative plan for funding was for these services--no answer on that.
posted by misha at 8:10 PM on September 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


But we have a large population of retirees... many of them don't want to pay higher taxes for anything.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your Greatest Generation
posted by any major dude at 8:28 PM on September 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Topics/proposals for trolling Teabagger rallies : Eliminating the FICA tax. Shifting administration of Social Security, Medicare, etc. to the state level. You must propose that Goldman-Sacks might help if you propose privatizing Social Security. Pick important foreign born figures for some race baiting, surely Google, Facebook, etc. much have some foreign born executives.
posted by jeffburdges at 10:43 PM on September 15, 2011


Mish again.
posted by yoyo_nyc at 1:06 AM on September 16, 2011


Ladies and Gentlemen, your Greatest Generation

The 'greatest generation' fought WW2. Most of them are not retirees, they're dead. Anyone who worked or fought through the second world war and is still living is over 90.
posted by anigbrowl at 1:08 AM on September 16, 2011


anigbrowl, you're right, that's my mistake, there was a generation between that was too young to fight in WW2 they are called "The Silent Generation", never heard of them before. Seems it would be appropriate at the next town hall meeting to tell them to stay consistent and STFU!
posted by any major dude at 5:51 AM on September 16, 2011


AP Calculus and Pre-Calc... every single kid who took her class passed the AP test last year. And she's leaving, because she and her husband divorced, and she can't live on her salary alone now.

Tragedies like this go a long ways toward explaining why the US is slipping in Int'l competitions, and why we're going to be in dire shape in a few years. This teacher should have been given a sizeable raise to keep her on board. Any district with sane adults in charge wouldn't have had to think about that decision. Unless they're broke ... in which case there needs to be a GOVERNMENT PROGRAM to help districts bleeding talent.

We'll need a lot more "shovel-ready" stimuli in the future if that's all our kids have learned enough to do. Maybe they can dig graves for education-killers afoot in the land.
posted by Twang at 10:04 AM on September 16, 2011


« Older The Atlantic Cities   |   George Lucas was ahead of his time after all! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post