Coping With Changing Job Markets

Introduction

I live in the Berkshires. According to various measures, the Berkshires has both good and bad schools. The Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) test results show this for the lower grades:

Source: MA Dept. of Education

And for high schools:

Source: MA Dept. of Education

The US New and World Report offers a more comprehensive picture and tells the same story (the lower the rank, the better the school):

Source: US News and World Report

Problems in the lower-scoring schools stem largely from changing economic conditions in the Berkshires. Over the last few decades, the northern Berkshire towns have lost a huge number of manufacturing jobs. And for many of those who remained, a cycle of unemployment, poverty and alcohol/drugs has set in. Williamstown is an “oasis” in the northern Berkshires while tourism, culture, and health industries have spurred economic growth in the southern Berkshires.  

Many believe good schools reflect good teaching. But do they really? No doubt that the quality of teachers and school facilities are important. However, it is worth noting that in North Adams (Drury) and Pittsfield, towns with low ratings, the number of children living in single-parent homes is high: 61% in North Adams and 54% in Pittsfield. The single parent numbers are much lower in the Berkshire towns with high ratings: Great Barrington – 35% and only 22% in Lenox.

Putting single-parent homes together with poverty is certainly a formula for children to have their minds on things other than getting good educations. And certainly these factors go at least some of the way to explaining the differences in school performance scores.

The “Success Academy”

The Success Academy (SA) is a charter school system with located in New York City locales. Its students are predominantly from low-income/minority families. The Academy is notable because its students perform well. Robert Pondiscio wondered why to the point that he took the time to write a book about it. And unlike the claims made against other charter schools, he did not find that SA cherry-picked the best students. Rather, he found that SA “recruited” parents that were highly motivated for their children to succeed.     

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Comments

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Barry Hochhauser 5 months ago Member's comment

You are certainly right. And in this digital age there are more and more opportunities to skip the education system all together. I was watching an interview with some video gamers. They brought in millions of dollars in income per year from streaming their gaming on ad-revenue generating platforms like YouTube, sponsorships and tournament wins.

Some of these kids were in their early teens and had parents we were working traditional jobs making $50k per year. Many of these parents let their kids drop out of school (or for the really young ones, supposedly by homechooled) and focus on their gaming full-time. It blows my mind.

Danny Straus 5 months ago Member's comment

Makes me want to go back in time to when my parents would tell me to stop wasting my time playing video games and hit the books. They said no one ever made a penny from playing games. Boy did they turn out to be wrong.