Baltimore Press

City Must Link Education to Job Market

The National Center on Education and the Economy (NCEE) has issued grim find­ings on the status of Balti-, more’s economy. Yesterday, Dr. John Porter, NCEE director of School-to-Career Transitions, beseeched the academic and 2k industry groups gathered at a workforce development summit that “you can’t make it in the silos you’re in.” The meetings were held at The Living Classrooms Foundation in Fells Point.

“The overarching issue that Baltimore must immediately address is the dangerous trend of supporting a low-skill economy.” read the report, “to ignore the issue is to risk further economic deterioration.” The region, like most of the U.S., has a wide gap between the educational system and the job market. The solution, Porter said, is to develop a public-private partnership of school systems and corporate industry on a regional level.

The two-day summit addressed these issues and focused on educa­tional models that are working in Boston, Glasgow, New Zealand, Austin, and Philadelphia, among oth­ers locations. All the models had two major characteristics: First, they were largely driven by industry and the Chamber of Commerce—not educa­tors—because of their vested interest in the quality of their potential employees; and second, the programs were successful in both bolstering the local economy and deepening the education of the children.

Educators were often out of touch with the marketplace, Porter said, cit­ing a study that showed 80% of all U.S. teachers had never worked any­where but in a school. Another cited study showed that the greater the resources that business invested into public education, the greater the returns, up to about 500%.

“It’s a win-win situation,” Porter said.

Baltimore does have a school-to- work program, but it was considered ineffective and vague by many of the participants. A Baltimore City Community College representative, which is involved in that system, crit­icized it for having neither industry involvement nor academic standards. “It sends a bad mes­sage,” she said, “it says ‘we don’t think you [the student] can make it.’ ”

The Greater Baltimore Alliance, which hosted the summit, will be coordinating the drive toward a regional career-oriented educational system. The attendees were largely from academia and non-profit groups, but representatives from machinery, manufacturing, and hospi­tality industries also attended. Most had also committed to working toward this educational goal.

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