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College and Career Readiness through Blended Learning

Career Readiness
Career Readiness

Early College Serves Students and Employers

by Eileen Wedegartner

Lowering the barriers to opportunity

The need for a workforce with strong technical skills continues to grow in Massachusetts. Boston’s skyline, the Seaport, Kendall Square, Longwood, Kenmore Square and the spreading biotech campuses along 95 and 495 give tangible evidence of this need. The drivers of the Massachusetts economy demand workers who have strong skill sets.

Kevin McCaskill of Madison ParkTech Voc

Pandemic exposed a lack of access to technology for some Boston families.

DECEMBER 2020 PODCAST – This month’s podcast is the second part of the conversation between Executive Director Gary Kaplan and Kevin McCaskill, the Executive Director of Madison Park Technical Vocational High School, the only Vocational High School in the Boston Public School system. Mr. McCaskill has been working in education for over 30 years and between them, Gary and Mr. McCaskill have close to 75 years of experience advocating for public education. In this episode, they discuss how the current pandemic exposed a lack of access to technology for some Boston families, how progress and change continues to work its way across the country, and the most important types of leadership needed in our schools to ensure they provide the best possible education to our students.

Skills for the post-pandemic economy. Is college still necessary?

by Eileen Wedegartner, JFYNet Learning Specialist

Is college still necessary?

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed many people to decide to take a year off from higher education. The ballooning price of college tuition combined with the uncertain job outlook for recent college graduates make this decision understandable. But a longer view of the value of a college degree, beyond the immediate crisis, might lead to a different calculation.

JFYNet Connects Learning to Goals

by Joan Reissman, JFY Learning Specialist

Standards-based instruction includes MCAS, SAT, grade-level skills

MCAS is back on the schedule for the current school year. Teachers are struggling to cope with remote and hybrid learning models, and to comprehend the impact of six months’ learning loss. JFYNet is adapting its connected learning help them meet the compound challenges of this shortened and complicated school year.

Cracks in the Bedrock, The destabilizing effects of inequality

by Gary Kaplan

History doesn’t repeat itself, Mark Twain observed, but it often rhymes.

Because of our peculiar history, the current calls for redirection of police funding to social programs fall with a familiar cadence at JFYNetWorks.

We are often asked what JFY stands for. It stands for Jobs For Youth, the original name of the nonprofit organization. Jobs For Youth was founded in 1976 with a Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention grant from the US Department of Justice. Our original mission was to help high school dropouts find jobs. Low-income youth were dropping out of high school at rates rising toward 20% nationally and 40% in the cities. In the early 1970s the Nixon Administration, predating Reagan, thought the best social program was a job. And so, our history began as a juvenile justice delinquency prevention program.

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.

Cultivating the Garden, Cultivating Students

by Cathie Maglio, Blended Learning Specialist

A teacher is not unlike a gardener.

Time flies so quickly, especially as we get older. It’s now fall and a new school year is underway.

Last weekend as I prepared my garden for winter I started to think about how educators are like gardeners. A gardener sows seeds and then watches the flower seeds turn into beautiful flowers and the vegetable seeds yield their harvest of tomatoes, cucumbers, beets and squash. No two flowers are the same, even if the seeds came from the same package. I love seeing the different colors of zinnias and marigolds and the shapes and sizes of tomatoes, each one unique, even on the same plant.

Another New Beginning-Start of school

It is exciting. It is exhausting. It is a time of transition for everyone.

by Eileen Wedegartner, Blended Learning Specialist

It’s that bittersweet time of year again, the start of school. We pack away our summer gear, bags loaded with suntan lotion, flip-flips, towels and sand, and trade them in for book bags stuffed with new notebooks. Schools have been freshly cleaned and waxed and everything has a glimmer of hope. It’s that glorious time when every desk is shining, every pencil is sharp, and every Expo marker works.

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.