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Monday, October 10, 2011

Education Nation Report Card

        I spent much of last week reading the new book by Thomas Friedman called “That Used to Be Us.”  Friedman’s last book “The World is Flat” described how the digital world had reshaped how we interact, communicate and relate to each other.  His newest book lays out the fact that the United States has challenges with the globalization of the world’s economy because it has fallen behind much of the world in the level of education. While many countries such as China and India jump to the lead in educating its population in the newest technologies the United States slips to the middle of the pack in educational achievement.  “No Child Left Behind” and “Race to the Top” are catchy slogans aimed at reversing this decline in American education but the Obama Administration is already offering waivers to states that can’t meet the goals set out in the program.

As Friedman points out in the book,
      “Students from Zhejiang Universitv have been crowned World Champions of the 2011 Association Computing Machinery International Collegiate Programming Co-Sponsored by IBM, the competition, also known as the "Battle of the Brains" challenged 105 university teams to solve some of the most challenging computer programming problems in just five hours. Mastering both speed and skill, Zhejiang University successfully solved eight problems in five hours. The World Champions will return home with the “Worlds Smartest" trophy as well as IBM prizes, scholarships and a guarenteed offer of employment or internship with IBM.” 

     “ This year's top twelve teams that received medals are:  Zbejiang University (Gold, World Champion, China),University of Michigan at Ann Arbor (Gold, 2nd Place, USA) Tsinghua University (Gold, 3rd Place, China), St. Petersburg State University (Gold. 4th Place, Russia)  Nizhny Novgorod State Universitv (Silver, 5th Place, Russia) Saratov State Universitv (Silver, 6th Place, Russia), Fredrich-Alexander-Universitv Erlangen-Nuremberg (Silver, 7th Place, Germany), Donetsk National University (Silver, 8th Place, Ukraine),Jaiellonian University in Krakow (Bronze, 9th Place, Poland), Moscow State University (Bronze, 10th Place, Russia), Ural State Universitv (Bronze, llth Place, Russia), University of Waterloo, Bronze, 12th Place, Canada).”

            I couldn’t help but notice that in last week’s report on job hiring the country had over 100,000 new hires in the month of August but that there had been over 27,000 layoffs in the education field, many of them teachers.  As states and local governments struggle to deal with the poor economy the resources going into our schools are diminishing. The US House budget proposals call for reduced funding for Head Start by nearly $1.1 billion, or 15 percent, relative to the level under the current continuing resolution.    If these cuts were implemented by reducing enrollment, about 157,000 children would lose Head Start.

            How does this all relate to Howard County?  As a report released a couple of weeks ago by the Association of Community Services of Howard County shows the path to self-sufficiency of lower wage worker in our County requires additional education and training.

“In the table that follows, a combination of industry and occupation information provides an approach to looking at opportunity for the working poor to advance and remain above self-sufficiency levels. Table 13 depicts industries, and occupations within those industries, that are growing, filtering out those occupations that do not pay a self-sufficiency wage. The following industries/occupations offer a combination of immediate opportunities, rungs on a career ladder, or aspirational targets for career planning. They start with the industries that employ the greatest number of working poor Howard Countians today........  For each industry sector, the shaded row includes the number of Marylanders employed today, the percentage of the Howard County working poor working in the industry, and expected employment growth of the industry in Maryland over the next decade.

Maryland Employment 2008
Percentage of Howard Co. working poor employed in this industry 2009
2008-18 Expected Growth
Education Needed7
Average Annual Earnings
Educational Services             246,170                11%               10.5%
* Preschool Teachers

Certificate/Associate's/ Bachelor's; HS diploma required
* Elementary School Teachers

• Middle School Teachers

* Secondary School Teachers

* Self -Enrichment Teachers

Experiential, mostly self-employed on an hourly basis

Maryland Employment 2008
Percentage of Howard Co. working poor employed in this industry 2009
2008-18 Expected Growth
Education Needed
Average Annual Earnings
Medical Services                     268,660                10.5%               20.6%
* Registered Nurses

Occupational Therapist Assistants

Associate's degree; Must pass national certifying exam
* Physical Therapist Assistants

Associate's degree
» Dental Assistants

On-the-job training/1 year training program/Associate's degree; HS diploma required
* Medical Assistants

On-the-job training/1 -2 year training programs/ Associate's degree; HS diploma preferred if not required
 Medical Transcriptionists

1 year certificate/ Associate's degree

 Friedman concludes with the reality that for the United States to compete in the new global economy our country must invest in the education and training of our population to face the new global competition. This is the new "space race" of our time.  Creating and keeping jobs in the United States is only political rhetoric unless it is backed up with a plan for addressing the education gap this country has with the rest of the world. The jobs of the future will not just gravitate to the countries with the lowest wage scales but to the countries with the best educated population.


Event will feature local media voices in a discussion of communications in today’s world

Communication methods have changed dramatically in the last 50 years, but the need to communicate is basic and constant. As part of its celebration for American Archives Month, the Columbia Archives will host a discussion with local voices in print and online media on Wednesday, October 12 at 7 p.m. at CA Headquarters. David Greisman, Columbia Flier/Howard County Times; Lisa Kawata, freelance feature writer; Lisa Rossi, Columbia Patch; and Duane St. Clair, HoCo Connect; will discuss the challenges, opportunities and importance of context in getting out the news in today’s world of instant messaging and sound bites. Archives have traditionally been a source for journalists to give context and perspective to current events, for as George Santayana said, “the one who does not remember history is bound to live through it again.”
When Jim Rouse posed the question in 1963 about how to communicate to the community, The Rouse Company answered with a carefully constructed marketing plan and innovative ideas including cable connections to every home. An exhibit of marketing materials, national media coverage, correspondence and local newspapers will highlight the ways The Rouse Company communicated the idea and reality of Columbia initially and how the responsibility for communication shifted to the local press and others in the community. The exhibit at the Columbia Archives is open to the public and will be up October 10 through December 30.
Columbia Archives preserves the history of Columbia and the career of James Rouse. It is a public research facility and offers outreach programs to make the material accessible. It is open to visitors on a daily basis Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit, e-mail or call 410-715-3103.
Join the Blog party at the Stanford Grill tonightWe'll be there from 5:30 - 7:30 pm in the back patio area. The weather should be lovely then ... somewhere in the mid-70s and sunny. We're celebrating Tales of Two Cities' astoundingingly consistent local blogging tenure and his fifth anniversary in addition to celebrating the 50th anniversary podcast of And Then There's That ... If you haven't heard yet, the podcast show will be taped *at* the party, which is certainly a first for us. ;-)

Hope you can join us ... federal holiday and all. More info and RSVPs at


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