Tag Archives: Workforce Development

The Imperative of Early Education & Eliminating the Achievement Gap

I’ve spent the past two days in San Antonio, Texas participating in a meeting of the White House Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics. As a member of the Early Education Subcommittee, I have spent a lot of time talking to my fellow commissioners about models and best practices to ensure all young people–regardless of race or socioeconomic status–receive high-quality early education.

My view from the Commission meeting in San Antonio, TX.

My view from the Commission meeting in San Antonio, TX.

Too often, the debate about closing the achievement gap and increasing access to quality early childhood programs is framed in moralistic terms. It becomes a debate about “haves” and “have-nots,” as opposed to focusing on the broader social implications of not addressing the fundamental inequality found in our early childhood education system. The consequences of not addressing these issues go far beyond the civil rights or social ramifications that are regularly the focus of these discussions.

One of my goals as a Commissioner (focusing on national Education Policy) and a Councilmember (focusing on a broad range of local public policy issues) is changing the narrative about how we talk about certain issues. I encourage an “opportunity model” where we focus on young peoples’ strengthens, as opposed to the more common “deficit” model that focuses on the “challenges” of educating a more diverse student population. Similarly, eliminating the achievement gap and preparing the workforce of the future is more than just an “equity” issue. It is the key economic issue of our time. Here’s why:

1) Eliminating the Achievement Gap is a socioeconomic imperative. Of all the developed countries in the world, the United States is the only one with a growing aging population and a growing young population. All other developed countries have the aging population, but not the young population growth. The reason for the young population growth is the birthrate of Latino Americans. If Latino children are not prepared to enter the workforce, who will be there to pay into Social Security for older Americans? We need to make sure all children have the skills they need to find good paying jobs that will contribute to all of our economic well-being.

2) Eliminating the Academic Achievement Gap is the only way to maintain our global competitive edge. We should not submit to the notion that our workforce will be imported. India and China are basically our global competitors and we have lost our innovative edge, due to our complacency regarding the Achievement Gap. Importing talent is not a solution for increasing economic productivity and is certainly not a way to promote economic opportunity for children growing up in the United States. We live in a different world than our parents did, but our education system and workforce development pipeline continues to lag behind the times. Children growing up in Los Angeles, Montgomery County and anywhere in between deserve the same educational and workforce training opportunities their peers around the world are receiving. That is the only way the United States can remain the dominant economic super power.

3) Eliminating the Academic Achievement Gap is vital to our National Security. While education policy and national security don’t at first glace seem connected, their interconnectedness can’t be overstated. If our military can’t recruit qualified individuals, they can’t execute their mission to keep our country safe. If young people don’t have the educational tools to even pass the entrance exams, how can we have a strong national defense? With people of color now making up the majority of the population in our schools, it is more important than ever to make sure all students–regardless of race or socioeconomic status–have the opportunity to be successful.

With Congressman Joaquin Castro

With Congressman Joaquin Castro

This narrative shows that investing in Early Education is the best approach for a stronger return on investment. Waiting until a student is in middle school or even kindergarten is already too late. Quality early childhood education for all is essential to our nation’s economic and national security. Making these necessary investments should be bipartisan because both Democrats and Republicans agree on wanting a prosperous nation. We should stop referring to this issue as a matter of “Civil Rights” or a moral imperative. It’s not a “nice to have for some,” but a “must have for all.”

Councilmember Nancy Navarro to Attend Launch of New MCPS, Hispanic Heritage Foundation and code.org Partnership

Councilmember Nancy Navarro to Attend Launch of New MCPS, Hispanic Heritage Foundation and code.org Partnership at 1 p.m. TODAY, March 24, at Wheaton H.S.

Councilmember Navarro Facilitates Partnership Aimed at Preparing Youth for Technology Careers

ROCKVILLE, Md, March 24, 2014—Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro at 1 p.m. TODAY will wheaton hsattend a news conference at Wheaton High School where Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) is announcing a partnership that will introduce youth to technology careers. Following the press conference, the event will feature an interactive “Coding Jam Session” that will teach youth how to code using HTML and CSS.

Councilmember Navarro facilitated the partnership between MCPS and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, suggesting Wheaton High School as a location to hold this first of its kind event in Montgomery County.

Wheaton High School is located at 12601 Dalewood Dr. in Silver Spring. Other speakers expected include Phillip Kaufman, president of the Board of Education; Joshua P. Starr, superintendent of schools; Antonio Tijerino, president and CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation; and Jake Baskin, the program manager for code.org.

The program will help address the workforce development challenge Montgomery County is facing to fill the gap for skills and experience needed to perform in-demand jobs. By 2020, as baby boomers are retiring, millennials will be representing about 50 percent of the workforce. According to a report by the Center for American Progress, by 2030, more than half of new workers will be people of color and the American workforce will need to fill 83 million replacement and new jobs.

“I am very pleased to see the launching of this new partnership,” said Councilmember Navarro. “When Mr. Tijerino told me about his organization’s Coding Jam Sessions being held at schools throughout the country, I immediately thought we needed to bring this to Montgomery County to inspire curiosity and interest in our students.”

Councilmember Navarro said the program will be part of efforts Montgomery County is making to retain and create jobs.

“We are making investments in the retention and creation of jobs through direct incentives and through the passage of Master and Sector Plans that are creating a technology destination in Montgomery County,” said Councilmember Navarro. “The time to prepare all young people to succeed in increased globalization and emerging technologies is now.”

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