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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

- Authored by: Gary Kaplan

Origins of JFYNetWorks (Podcast)

With Gary Kaplan, Executive Director
Narrated by Greg Cunningham, Blended Learning Specialist

JANUARY 2020 PODCAST – For nearly 40 years, JFYNetWorks, a Boston-based nonprofit organization, has served high-need populations in Massachusetts by developing and delivering education and job training programs that equip young people with the skills needed to succeed in our changing economy. Gary Kaplan, Executive Director of JFYNet, describes the origins of the non-profit, and how it has adapted to best serve a changing student population over the years.

Education and Workforce: What’s New?

Old Year, New Year, New Decade. Same Story.

by Gary Kaplan

For readers of education and workforce journalism, the turn of the decade was neatly bracketed by two articles that summed up the year’s main themes: low student performance and labor shortage. First was a New York Times piece on December 28 headed “Year in Education: Stalled Test Scores…” Under the sub-head “Stagnant Student Performance and Widening Achievement Gaps” it reminded us that the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), our “gold standard” nationwide assessment, had found only one-third of fourth and eighth-graders proficient readers, while student achievement in both reading and math was flat over the past 10 years. That wasn’t all: the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), an 80-country international test under the auspices of OECD, found that American 15-year-olds have been stagnant in reading and math for two decades. Both tests noted widening achievement gaps between low-performing and high-performing students. The article did not delve into the demographics of the gaps, but we know all too well how that maps.

A Jeffersonian Solution for a Jeffersonian Problem: Inequality

All people may be created equal, but all schools are not.

by Gary Kaplan

Inequality will be a pervasive topic in the new decade. It won’t be a new topic. It’s been a front page story ever since Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century came out in English in 2014. But it seems to be coming up more frequently, and in more contexts, from the World Economic Forum in Davos to the sports page of the Boston Globe. Yet for the millions who live it every day, it’s hardly breaking news.

Madison Park Holds the Line on MCAS Math

Madison Park is on an upward trajectory.

by Gary Kaplan

The scores are in, and they’re down. It was expected that scores on the new 10th grade MCAS 2.0 would be lower than on the old “Legacy” MCAS. The new test was designed to be more difficult, with higher-level questions. In addition, it was online, not on paper like the old test, and it contained new question formats—technology-assisted questions and multi-text comparisons, for starters—that students had never seen before. Lower scores were fully expected.

Labors Twilight-The Changing American Workforce

The Changing American Workforce

by Gary Kaplan
photos by Matthew Kaplan

Labor Day 2019

In the 1800s the Calumet region of northwest Indiana was Chicago’s Cape Cod. The baltic blue crescent of Lake Michigan swung serenely eastward from the state line. Tawny beaches and rolling sand dunes offered refuge from the raucous, brawling city of the big shoulders. Windwarped swale and reedy marshland attracted hunters and fishermen, birdwatchers and botanists. The lowslung lakefront lured industrial land scouts.

The Year in Review - Looking back on a busy 2018-19

Looking back on a busy 2018-19

by Gary Kaplan

The end of a school year is a traditional time for reflection. This year offers a wider than usual range of events to reflect on.

Education occupied an unusual amount of front page real estate. The quarter-century anniversary of Education Reform last year kicked off a long process of re-evaluation that continues to the present moment. The Legislature is still working on a new funding formula to correct the flaws in the old formula that widened the gaps in resources between wealthy towns and poor cities. These dollar gaps correlate with longstanding student performance gaps. There is a wide opinion gap on the degree to which correlation is causation, and on how to ensure that increased funding produces higher performance in the places where it is most needed. The Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education are untangling the strands of three competing proposals and weaving them into a tapestry of consensus.

Thank you for your continued support

Dear Friend of JFYNetWorks,

You may remember a young man named Joey whom we have featured before. Joey was a pleasant, affable high school student with a winning smile and a low opinion of himself. “I want to go to college,” he said, “but I’m not sure I can do it. There’s too much to learn. How am I ever going to make it?” We have recounted how we helped Joey work his way through our College Readiness course by showing him the periodic reports that documented how much he had achieved and how much closer he was to the goal. Our blended learning specialist, Melissa, even counted the number of software modules he had to complete and checked them off as he did them. By the end of the year, he had learned enough to pass the college placement test. In the fall, he was admitted to community college without having to take any remedial courses. We’ll never forget his charmingly modest expression of triumph to Melissa: “I got this, Miss.”

Frederick Wiseman, When gods walk the earth

Frederick Wiseman, Chronicler of the Western World

by Gary Kaplan, Unbounded Fan of ‘Fred’

I was at a conference this morning and felt the need for another cup of coffee. The conference was in a lecture room at the front of the building and the food in another room at the back. I sat for a few minutes debating whether to make a spectacle of myself by exiting the room. Caffeine withdrawal finally settled the issue and I slid as silently as possible out of the lecture room and into the corridor. I tiptoed to the rear of the building, decanted my cup of brew, and headed back toward the front. All this, from the first caffeine craving to the return, took perhaps four minutes. Just as I approached the doorway back into the lecture room, a diminutive figure emerged from another doorway and came toward me down the carpeted corridor. It was a small old man with cameras strapped all over his slight frame. Recognition was instantaneous. “Fred!” I blurted. “What are you doing here?” As if it was any business of mine, and as if he knew me from a hole in the wall.

JFYNetWorks awarded $100,000 Cummings Foundation grant

BOSTON, JUNE 01, 2018 – JFYNetWorks is one of 100 local nonprofits to receive grants of $100,000 each through Cummings Foundation’s “$100K for 100” program. The Boston-based organization was chosen from a total of 597 applicants through a competitive review process. Cummings Foundation has announced a total of $20 million in grants to Greater Boston charities in the past two months.