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How the American School System Can Train Kids for High-Tech Jobs

Unemployment is high, but there are tons of open jobs in engineering and science. Here's how America's school system can fill the gap.

In May of 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported an estimated 2.6 million jobs were unfilled. In the heart of the worst American recession in decades, with unemployment rates hovering at nine percent, there were over two million unfilled jobs. Why the contradiction? Many of these unfilled positions were in industries such as healthcare, aerospace, advanced precision manufacturing, scientific laboratory occupations, and computer-related design jobs which require knowledge of the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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When High Schools Graduates Aren’t Ready for College

Enrolling students in college is one challenge, but making sure they can thrive once they get there is another challenge altogether.


Enrolling students in college is one challenge, but making sure they can thrive once they get there is another challenge altogether.

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The AP has a disconcerting story that illustrates just how poorly prepared public school students are for college. According to Department of Education numbers, more than 30 percent of students entering American colleges require remedial training in at least one subject—in community colleges, it's more like 40 percent. Students forced into remedial classes are much more likely to drop out of college.

The cost of remedial education ends up being passed onto the taxpayer, who ends up paying twice to teach a student a particular subject. (That fact is less important than the human impact of failing to prepare students for college-level work, but monetary arguments are often better for prompting change.) According to the AP story:
The price of providing remedial training is costly. The Alliance for Excellent Education estimates the nation loses $3.7 billion a year because students are not learning basic needed skills, including $1.4 billion to provide remedial education for students who have recently completed high school.

Recently, I had an opportunity to chat with Kati Haycock, president of the advocacy organization Education Trust, which focuses most of its work on closing achievement gaps that leave low-income and minority students behind. The problem of remediation and college- and career-readiness was a big topic of our chat, especially in light of the new Common Core State Standards proposed by the National Governors Association in March. Here's what Haycock said:

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