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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

- Authored by: Gary Kaplan

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.

Labors Twilight-The Changing American Workforce

The Changing American Workforce

by Gary Kaplan
Photos by Matthew Kaplan

In the 1800s the Calumet region of northwest Indiana was Chicago’s Cape Cod. The baltic blue crescent of Lake Michigan curved 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, undeveloped lakefront lured industrial land scouts.

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.

Madison Park MCAS Gain Leads State

The largest Proficient/Advanced gain in the state

by Gary Kaplan, JFYNetWorks Executive Director

MCAS scores for 2017 were released last month. JFY’s partner schools logged many good results, but Madison Park Technical Vocational High School was far and away the year’s high point.

Madison Park has come in for heavy criticism for many years. Every news story about school problems cites it as one of the lowest performing schools in the state. There is justification for concern: scores have historically been low and the school was demoted to Level 4 in 2015. In our skill-hungry labor market, it makes sense to be concerned: how can we support a burgeoning tech-based economy if Boston’s only vocational school can’t produce skilled workers?

Education: Our Lifeline to the Future

The skills gap persists

by Gary Kaplan, JFYNetWorks Executive Director

Labor Day weekend kicked off, appropriately, with the national Employment Report. It was underwhelming. Job and wage growth held their sluggish pace. Commentaries ranged from “steady as she goes” to “more noise than signal” to “disappointing though hardly catastrophic.” A movie opening to reviews like those wouldn’t have lasted the weekend.

Boston Urban Science Academy students in the Summer Bridge program at Quincy College 8-16-2017

Twenty-nine students from Boston’s Urban Science Academy completed a summer course at Quincy College August 10 thanks to a unique partnership between the high school, the college, and JFYNetWorks.

Urban Science Academy is located in the old West Roxbury High building at the end of VFW Parkway, the southernmost delta of the city. Its students come from a broad swath of neighborhoods extending from Jamaica Plain, Roslindale, Roxbury and Dorchester to Mattapan, West Roxbury and Hyde Park. The daily trip to school via T can be an ordeal.

Labor shortage continues. 99% of jobs go to college graduates

Labor Shortage Continues

99% of Jobs Go to College Graduates

by Gary Kaplan, JFYNetWorks Executive Director

“There are no jobs for high school diplomas.”

The May jobs report reiterates a theme we have been hearing with increasing urgency: the shortage of skilled labor. The current 4.3% unemployment rate is a 16-year low. That means there are very few unattached workers available at a time when job openings are near all-time highs. For employers who can’t find qualified workers it means foregoing opportunities for expansion. For the economy at large it means slower growth. But it’s not just a quantitative problem, it’s also qualitative: there aren’t enough workers with the specific skills employers need. The wide range and varied dimensions of the skills shortage are indicated by a survey of Saturday’s newspaper reports.

by Gary Kaplan, JFYNetWorks Executive Director

The need for a higher-skilled workforce is real.

by Gary Kaplan, JFYNetWorks Executive Director

The March state employment report (released in late April) focuses on two concerns: weak job growth and a shortage of skilled workers. Job growth waxes and wanes from month to month, but the skilled worker shortage has been a constant refrain for years. The Federal Reserve regional summary (the Beige Book) for April seconds the call for more workers at every skill level.