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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

- Authored by: Gary Kaplan

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.

Early College initiative

‘Equitable Access’ a Priority

Earlier this month a Boston Globe editorial gave a good overview of the state’s new early college initiative.

As the editorial points out, the great challenge will be to include low-income students, whose rates of college completion lag far behind more affluent students. The resolution that created the program prioritizes “students underrepresented in higher education enrollment and completion.” This language includes the overlapping categories of minority and special needs students as well as low-income. It will be necessary to include all these groups if the goal of 16,000 early college students per year is to be met. To put that goal into perspective, the total number of public high school graduates entering the state public higher education system each year is about 20,000.

The “design principle” that spells out these priorities is headed “Equitable Access.” It recommends “student supports to prepare students for entry into the program” and “student supports to promote success.” These student supports will be necessary to broaden and deepen the early college pool; and they are exactly what JFYNet College and Career Readiness provides. Early College will require that students meet the goal of “college readiness” one, two or more years earlier than at present– a significant boost in high school performance standards. Raising the skills of “underrepresented” students to college level is not a trivial task. Remediation rates at community colleges, the best available gauge of the skills of this group, have hovered over 60% since the 1990s.

The success of this initiative will depend on a strong program of skill-focused academic supports to bring these students to college readiness. JFYNet is extending its instructional sequence, currently MCAS Prep and College Readiness (Accuplacer), to encompass early college supports. This move links our mission, expertise and experience in raising the skills of “underrepresented” students to the next stage of education reform. As a tested and proven method of achieving college readiness in high school, JFYNet can provide the academic support component that early college needs. College readiness is still the necessary pre-condition of college success—especially when college starts early.

Gary Kaplan
Executive Director

JFYNetWorks
44 School Street, Suite 1010
Boston MA 02108
Phone 617-338-0815 x 224
GKaplan@jfynet.org

FY Executive staff with Speaker DeLeo

JFYNetWorks board and staff enjoyed the company of House Speaker Robert DeLeo at a recent event in Boston. JFY Chairman Otis Gates and the Speaker shared reminiscences of their mutual alma mater,#BostonLatinSchool. Left to Right: Otis Gates, JFY Board Chairman; Susan Dunnigan, Board Secretary; House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo; Kevin Macdonald, Board Treasurer; Gary Kaplan, Executive Director.

Diversity relies on deeper talent pool in Boston

How to Achieve Diversity in Boston and Massachusetts Business

by Gary Kaplan, Executive Director of JFYNetWorks and David Driscoll, former Massachusetts Commissioner of Education. | Originally published by the Boston Business Journal on 11/11/16. See the original post here.

Speaking to the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce last month, Mayor Walsh challenged Boston’s business leaders to confront their lack of diversity and to assemble a workforce and leadership teams reflective of the city’s demographics. The response was enthusiastically positive. But how can diversity actually be achieved?

Leadership teams rise from the workforce, and the workforce of the Boston and Massachusetts business community comes more than ever from the college graduate pool. Promotion through the ranks is a natural process of corporate capillarity. Despite the steps that many businesses are taking to improve diversity, in order for more people of color to rise through the workforce there has to be a more diverse pool of college graduates. This is where the problem begins.

Madison Park Technical Vocational High School Student

It’s Time for Madison Park To Get Some Respect

by Gary Kaplan

The Boston Globe Magazine’s recent article on vocational education (School of Work, 10/2/16) came down like a ton of raw concrete on Boston’s Madison Park Technical Vocational High School.  One commentator blamed Madison Park for “vocational education’s tarnished reputation in Massachusetts” while another recommended scrapping the school altogether and “start[ing] over again.”  There are legitimate reasons to be frustrated with Madison Park; but there are better options than the dumpster.