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PivotED - "Expanding Access" Issue (March)
A newsletter (for adults) about career readiness (for kids).
I’ve been anxiously searching for new data sets that give a clearer picture of what the last two years of pandemic life have actually meant for American kids. Unfortunately, all signs indicate that the negative impacts have been insidious and will likely take a toll for years to come. Chalkbeat, together with the Associated Press, reports that “High school graduation rates dipped in at least 20 states after the first full school year disrupted by the pandemic, suggesting the coronavirus may have ended nearly two decades of nationwide progress toward getting more students diplomas.” As is too often the tragic reality, we know that any negative impacts will be most acutely felt by the communities with the most to gain, namely People of Color, immigrants and those of lower socioeconomic means or familial educational attainment. Yet, in light of events like the banning of books that are deemed racially sensitive, and state legislation that actively hurts kids who identify as LGBTQI on the table, we all need to increase the velocity of our support for the most vulnerable kids within our education systems with the understanding that some things transcend the political sphere.
As I survey the month’s news in search of a theme, one concept keeps coming back to me: expanding access. Better career learning supports in the education system and more dynamic connections between education and careers will mean VERY little if we aren’t intentional about making them inclusive, equitable and accessible for all kids…about supporting those who need it most. I hope we who work in and around education will build into our work a metaphorical embrace of kids who have so often been pushed to the sidelines in conversations about attainment. One of the best ways to do that is to do away with the harmful and wrong notion that success is “college or else”. That mindset has, for too long, hurt kids whose potential is so much greater than we’ve created space for. And research we conducted together with Jobs for the Future (JFF) shows that the outdated mindset is not aligned with the desires of employers, either, with 68% of employers reporting that they believe organizations should proactively hire candidates from non-degree pathways. With the proliferation of more dynamic education-to-career opportunities for young people, the potential we have to fix a seriously flawed paradigm and build more equitable access to successful careers is tremendous. I hope you enjoy this curated roundup.
President & CEO, American Student Assistance
How the New Banned Books Panic Fits Into America’s History of School Censorship
The Story: Vox reports on an alarming trend: the banning of books from schools. The piece discusses the recent uptick in school book bans in the context of the history of book banning in America, and describes the role of book bans in suppressing speech and diminishing the identity of people and groups with something to say. “There are much more sweeping pieces of legislation being introduced that purport to ban whole categories of books. And that’s definitely something new,” Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America tells Vox.
The Bottom Line: The banning of books in American schools may be nothing new, but the banning of entire categories of thought is startling and poses a severe threat to the diversity, equity and inclusivity of classrooms and educational experiences. And ultimately, it poses a threat to the critical thinking ability and intellectual acuity we want to instill in our kids. This must be clear to people anywhere on the U.S. political spectrum who have a vested interest in the success of our kids. As education historian Jonathan Zimmerman tells Vox, “Whoever gets to control what kids are reading gets to control the definition of “the Real America”. That resonates with a lot of people.”
University and College Presidents Face Challenges on the Frontlines of Higher Education
The Story: Higher education is experiencing an existential crisis that’s been well-documented in the last two years. As interesting as it is in a vacuum, I’m mostly interested in what it means for the kids of today and how we prepare them for the future. What will college look like for those who graduate from high school in five years and choose to pursue a degree? Ten years? While I’ll warrant that the higher education we all recognize today won’t exist in its current shape for much longer (as this Forbes piece points out), I am encouraged that higher education leaders are taking the right things away from the enrollment losses of the last two years…namely that kids want and deserve stronger education-to-career opportunities, need credentials that are truly stackable and programs that are better aligned to their career goals, and deserve mental and holistic support.
The Bottom Line: Higher education leaders know that big change is inevitable. And they know that today’s kids have more education-to-career opportunities than ever and won’t settle for education that’s not accessible, affordable, realistic and relevant. The “growing shift in learner expectations” described in this piece is a strong indication that, in tandem with the power dynamic change happening in the workforce in favor of employees, it’s now students who are in the drivers seat of what higher education looks like and means.
Remaking Middle School: A Podcast from the University of Virginia
The Story: The authors of Career Exploration in the Middle Grades: A Playbook for Educators got together with the host of the Lessons in Adolescence Podcast to talk about taking career readiness from the theoretical to the practical. In this podcast they discuss why middle school — not high school — is the perfect time for conversations about adult life and the working world in order to help more students succeed.
The Bottom Line: Anyone working in or around K-12 education today knows that transformation is needed in order to turn school into a place where learning happens to a place where “learning for the real world” happens. Educators themselves want this change. But schools sometimes struggle to get started moving from the theoretical to the practical. This playbook (the basis of the podcast) is a critical piece of content for anyone who wants to become better acquainted with strategies and tactics for proven classroom experiences like project-based learning and experiential learning and how they can transform the experiences kids have in school.
Association for Middle Level Education, American Student Assistance Announce Winners of Funding Contest for Educators to Kickstart Middle Grades Career Exploration Programming (Yahoo Finance, February 17, 2022)
10 Schools Advance in $2M STEM Competition from Samsung for Addressing Food Disparities, Health Inequity and More (Samsung Newsroom, March 17, 2022)
Suffering From Labor Shortages, States Look to Build Up K-12 Digital Transparency (EdSurge, March 8, 2022)
Several Central Oregon Schools Among Recipients of State Career Readiness Grants Totaling $7.3 Million (KTVZ News, March 9, 2022)
K-12 Career Pathway Bill Heads to Gov. Reeves’ Desk (SuperTalkFM, March 16, 2022)
TikTok’s Effects on Teens Will Be Investigated by State Attorneys (TechCrunch, March 3, 2022)
How the CAPS Network is Transforming Career Readiness (Forbes, February 24, 2022)
American Student Assistance Thought Leadership Sessions @ ASU+GSV 2022
San Diego, April 4-6, 2022
San Diego, April 4-6, 2022
Immersive Virtual Career Exploration Program for Middle and High Schoolers
Registrations Open to Teachers & Students from April 13-June 22, 2022
Jobs for the Future (JFF) Horizons National Summit
June 7-8, 2022, New Orleans
LearnLaunch Institute K12 Innovation Summit
June 23, 2022, Boston
Association for Middle Level Education (AMLE) Annual Conference
Virtual, November 3-5, 2022