Monday, April 30, 2012

How to Talk About Religion

Robert Kunzman

Click here for original source
Preparing students for active democratic citizenship means teaching them … How to Talk About Religion.
Religion is a conversation stopper. This memorable assertion by philosopher Richard Rorty certainly rings true in many people's experiences with civic disagreement. When citizens point to religious scripture or the will of God as the reason for their political positions, Rorty asserts, there's nothing left to talk about—they've entered the realm of incommensurable criteria, leaving us with no way to judge among claims. And even if they were to try to keep the conversation going, the presence of religious language and dogma would almost certainly derail it, leaving a pileup of suspicion, mistrust, and ill will. It often seems that our public square would be better off without religion playing a role.

The Elephant in the Room

Anyone who pays attention to public discourse in the United States will note that "religion talk" is very much a part of the civic conversation, for better or worse—as evidenced, for example, by the influence of such organizations as the Moral Majority or the Christian Coalition. But even many Americans who know full well that the public square can't simply mirror their personal beliefs would find it non sensical to deliberate about civic convictions while ignoring their religious ones.
It's not just conservative religious ideology and organizations that influence citizens' perspectives these days. Many supporters of environmental protection, progressive taxation, and assistance to the poor, for instance, draw their motivation from religious sources. And although organizations on the Christian Right may garner more headlines, their progressive counterparts—such as Sojourners and the National Council of Churches—also seek to influence the populace's civic views. The same ideological diversity exists within other religious traditions as well.
Simply put, anyone who seeks to engage thoughtfully and critically with the ideals and realities of democratic citizen ship must have an appreciation for the role that religion plays in citizens' lives. This is particularly true in U.S. society, where more than 80.percent of citizens claim a religious affiliation (Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 2008). Moreover, survey data show that citizens often draw heavily from their religious convictions when forming positions on public policy (Putnam & Campbell, 2010).
Nevertheless, any sensible public school teacher would be justifiably wary of routinely bringing religious talk into the classroom. Church-state conflicts abound in American society, and few contexts are as incendiary as public schools when religion enters the mix. Part of the problem is a confusion about the purposes of religion in the curriculum: Is it simply to teach students what different people believe? Is it to cultivate some sort of tolerance? Or is it something more?
Daunting as it may be, our public schools need to aim for more—students need to gain fluency in talking about religion and its role in society. They need to recognize how religion influences our public square and learn how to talk across religious and other ethical differences as we navigate our public life together.

Cultivating Civic Multilingualism

In recent years, the call has increased for U.S. students to study foreign languages. In an interconnected, global society, the argument goes, Americans must be able to communicate effectively with a diversity of peoples and cultures, whether for purposes of commerce, research, or national security. But given the prevalence of religion talk in today's world, another form of fluency is increasingly needed: Civic multilingualism is the ability to converse across different religious and ethical perspectives in search of understanding, compromise, and common ground. At home and abroad, this may represent the greatest social challenge of the 21st century.
To meet this challenge, public schools cannot sidestep the influence of religion in society. Nor should they cultivate a model of citizenship that avoids religion talk altogether. In fact, religious communities and their distinctive languages of justice have contributed powerfully to pivotal democratic movements in U.S. history, such as the abolition of slavery and the civil rights movement. And despite the many well-publicized ways that religious talk and religious interest groups can trouble our democracy, social science research consistently suggests that religious Americans are more civically active; they join community organizations, address community problems, and participate in local political life more than their secular counterparts (Putnam & Campbell, 2010; Smith & Sikkink, 1999; Weithman, 2002).
But civic activity doesn't automatically translate late into civic improvement. The qualities of such activism—and the conversation that accompanies it—matter a great deal. We should not accept the status quo of religious talk in the public square, which too often resembles a series of indignant soliloquies delivered with self-righteous certainty. The idea of civic multilingualism is that citizens in our diverse democracy will bring with them to the public square their own religious and ethical languages and their own ways of seeing and ordering the world, but they will also communicate respectfully and effectively with those who hold conflicting perspectives.

How Can Schools Help?

It's often assumed that religious perspectives will most likely surface in the context of history or literature, but if we consider how widely religion permeates our world, it becomes clear that many subjects—science, art, music, foreign languages, health, and so on—are equally important opportunities to develop civic multilingualism.
Consider a 10th grade biology class embarking on a genetics unit. The teacher presents a curricular hook in the form of provocative questions about cloning and genetic testing, which almost inevitably result in some students drawing on religious convictions to articulate their positions.
"The Bible says that God knit us together in the womb," one boy contends, "and we have no right to alter that design." The teacher could respond by simply acknowledging the existence of religious arguments and then encourage her students to "stick to the science" as they explore these issues. But this misses an important opportunity to help cultivate civic multilingualism—demonstrating respect for competing ethical perspectives by striving to understand them.
For example, parents who would refuse to screen for genetic abnormalities may view that decision as an act of faith and unconditional acceptance of their children. Those who would screen may view their responsibility as parents to include giving their children a healthy start to life, if at all possible. Once students understand competing points of view, they're better prepared to explore ways in which those holding such views might reach accommodation, compromise, and perhaps even common ground.
Several important conceptual distinctions can foster this kind of civic multilingualism and help teachers engage productively with the challenges of religion in the classroom.

1. Focus on respect instead of tolerance.

Public schools often see their role as promoting tolerance of diversity, and this is certainly important. But tolerance can be entirely ignorant—students don't have to know anything about other beliefs or ways of life to tolerate them. Respect, however, requires an appreciation for why religious adherents believe or live the way they do. Students who have this understanding of their fellow citizens' religious commitments will be better equipped to thoughtfully discuss those commitments, especially when conflicts arise in the public square.
For example, consider the ongoing debates about religious dress in public life, both in the United States and abroad. When deciding whether any restrictions on religious attire are appropriate, it's not enough to know that some Muslim women choose to wear headscarves as part of their religious observance. Respect requires an appreciation for how this choice may represent an integral facet of their identity. Without such insight, students risk evaluating those commitments through a lens that views clothing choices as little more than fashion statements.

2. Respect doesn't mean endorsement.

It's important for teachers and students to understand that appreciating why others believe and live the way they do doesn't necessarily mean agreeing with those ways of life. Demonstrating respect by seeking to understand the significance of the headscarf for some Muslims or the way in which faith healing plays a central role in the lives of Christian Scientists is distinct from endorsing those beliefs ourselves.
We can certainly demonstrate respect toward beliefs we disagree with. In fact, a lack of critical engagement with other perspectives can demonstrate a profound disrespect—"You aren't worth the time and energy for me to provide a critique!" We demonstrate civic respect toward others not by agreeing with them, but by striving mightily to understand what they value and why, and then being willing to explain our disagreements. Such insight doesn't guarantee fruitful deliberations, of course, but it's hard to imagine how a deep-seated ignorance of our fellow citizens and their priorities could lead us to fair and respectful decisions about the shape of our public life together.

3. Reasonable doesn't mean right.

Reasonable disagreement is the heart of civic virtue—it involves a genuine engagement with conflicting perspectives and a recognition that others usually have coherent reasons for believing what they do. But even when we recognize the reasonableness of other perspectives, we might conclude that competing arguments have a stronger case. Teachers need to help students understand that reasonable doesn't necessarily equal right.
Consider the debates over governmental fiscal policy and the religious arguments that have been made in support of competing sides of the issue. Advocates for increased social spending cite scriptural admonitions to care for the poor and vulnerable, whereas those who seek spending cuts argue that saddling future generations with massive debt violates religious precepts as well. At the same time, however, recognizing the reasonableness of other perspectives can often make us more willing to seek compromise and accommodation, even while holding firm to our own beliefs.

4. Religions are internally diverse.

Religion is a complicated subject, and many public school teachers understandably despair of doing it justice in the classroom. Recognizing the remarkable diversity within religious traditions makes such a task seem even more daunting. But this internal diversity should also provide comfort to teachers—they don't need to feel responsible for providing the definitive viewpoint for any particular religion because there typically isn't any.
Some examples of religious behavior and conviction bear this out. Plenty of Muslim women choose not to wear headscarves or even view them as symbols of gender oppression. Likewise, some Christian Scientists seek conventional medical assistance for a variety of ailments. The full range of perspectives within religious traditions is rarely encompassed in a single example.
Recognizing diversity within religious traditions serves two other functions: It can help students outside those traditions avoid stereotyping or overgeneralizing, and it can help students inside those traditions recognize that even among the "faithful," there might be reasonable differing perspectives.

5. Focus on the civic implications, not the beliefs themselves.

Public schools are not the place for debating the truth or falsehood of religious beliefs. But that doesn't mean there's no place for critical engagement with religion. Teachers should help students focus on the civic implications of religious beliefs, regardless of whether they endorse them.
Here are some vital questions for the public school curriculum. Given the inevitable conflicts among different ways of life—and the impossibility of everyone changing their minds to agree with one another—how do we craft a civic life together? Where can we compromise or accommodate? And when do we let the democratic process create winners or losers, while remaining committed to continuing the conversation?
An exploration of the arguments surrounding abortion rights, for example, will need to acknowledge the religious sources of many citizens' desire to see abortion outlawed. But it's beyond the expertise of most public school teachers, and certainly beyond their ethical prerogative, to subject those religious reasons to theological critique (for example, Does the Bible really condemn abortion?). Instead, the relevant civic questions are these: Given these conflicting perspectives among citizens, how should we use the power of the state to regulate abortion (or not)? Are there areas of agreement, potential for common ground, or possibilities for accommodation? There's certainly a place for insider critique of religious texts and interpretations, but that place is not the public school.

6. Public and private mix but shouldn't match.

Focusing on the civic implications of religion—what it means for our common life together—is a crucial distinction for civic multilingualism. It doesn't ask students to question the core of their religious beliefs or how they practice those beliefs in their private lives. Instead, it asks us all to recognize that the application of private beliefs to civic life together will often be a matter of reasonable disagreement.
This points to a crucial distinction between the private and public realms. Students need to recognize that the public square cannot simply be a mirror of their private beliefs, religious or otherwise. This doesn't mean that religion must be constrained solely to the private realm of society. That's not a requirement of democracy, and it's certainly not how people actually live. But few of us want to live in a theocracy, even of our own making, much less one crafted by others' religious beliefs.
The distinction between public and private not only protects and accommodates reasonable disagreement but also provides room for those who believe in absolute or singular truth. The message to such students should be that good citizens don't need to abandon their convictions that absolute truth exists, and they have substantial room to live their private lives in accordance with those convictions, but no one gets to fully impose his or her version of that truth in the public square.

7. Students should know their teachers' convictions—about respectful conversation.

There's a wide range of opinion about how much teachers should disclose about their own personal beliefs. Some of this will undoubtedly be determined by context—the age of students, the matter under discussion, the relationships and culture in the classroom. But one thing teachers should always demonstrate passionate conviction about is that respectful conversation and reasonable disagreement are essential practices in a democracy.
Teachers can also model the practice of "learning as you go" when striving to understand unfamiliar perspectives and beliefs. It's simply not possible for teachers to be sufficiently informed about every public issue, much less the ways in which various religious perspectives inform citizens' stances on those issues. But students can benefit from walking through the process of investigation and deliberation with their teachers, observing the questions they ask, such as, What are my biases in approaching this issue? What are the strongest arguments for competing perspectives? How do competing perspectives criticize my own views? and How does this issue affect people whose perspectives and experiences I don't, or can't, share? Students also benefit from observing the sources their teachers consult to increase their knowledge as well as their teachers' commitment to civic multilingualism.

A Commitment Worth Making

Gaining proficiency in a language obviously entails learning vocabulary, grammatical rules, and other propositional knowledge. But to truly understand a language, to gain genuine fluency, speakers must understand the cultural context in which it is spoken. In the same way, although civic multilingualism requires communicative skills—active listening, delaying judgment, acknowledging the strength of opposing arguments, and so on—it must also extend beyond procedural techniques and explore the contested cultural terrain of religion and what it means to the faithful.
Civic multilingualism will not emerge spontaneously in classrooms. As political theorist Benjamin Barber (1992) reminds us, citizens are not born—they have to be made. Neither can this capacity be developed in a brief unit on character education or democratic engagement. Teachers need to be intentional and persistent in their focus on modeling and encouraging civic multilingualism in their students, creating a classroom culture in which conversations about religion and other deeply held beliefs are seen as integral to the education mission. When this culture of conversation is embraced by the school as a whole, the prospects for civic multilingualism become even stronger.
Schools need to help students learn how to keep the civic conversation going—even when religion is part of the mix. Ignoring the reality of our religion-infused milieu will only come at our peril. It's when we sidestep the role of religion in our society that we ensure the conversation will stop well short of what we need to craft a civic life together.


Barber, B. R. (1992). An aristocracy of everyone: The politics of education and the future of America. New York: Oxford University Press.
Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. (2008). U.S. religious landscape survey. Retrieved from
Putnam, R. D., & Campbell, D. E. (2010). American grace: How religion divides and unites us. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Smith, C., & Sikkink, D. (1999). Is private school privatizing? First Things, 92, 16–20.
Weithman, P. J. (2002). Religion and the obligations of citizenship. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Simon Sinek of "Start With Why"

Simon Sinek is an optimist. He believes in a bright future and our ability to build it together.
Why are some people and organizations more innovative, more influential, and more profitable than others? Why do some command greater loyalty from staff and members alike?

In studying the leaders and organizations who've had the greatest influence in the world, Simon Sinek discovered that they all think, act, and communicate in the exact same way -- and it's the complete opposite of what everyone else does.

Simon O. Sinek is a speaker, author, and thought leader best known for developing "The Golden Circle", an innovative concept of human motivation. In addition to advising the RAND corporation on matters of innovation and planning, he writes for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, FastCompany, NPR and BusinessWeek, and is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post, BrandWeek, and more. In the nonprofit sphere, Simon works with Count Me In, an organization created to help one million women-run businesses reach a million dollars in revenue by 2012, and serves on the Board of Directors for Danspace Project, which advances art and dance.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Test Scores and Housing Costs

April 19, 2012, 6:01 PM
Parents hoping to enroll their children in the best public schools have long known that where you live matters and that housing prices can be dictated by the quality of the nearby schools.
new study from the Brookings Institution quantifies that price gap, and the differences between the cost of living near a high-scoring public school and a low-performing one are striking.
The study, by Jonathan Rothwell, a senior research analyst in the Metropolitan Policy Program at Brookings, found that housing costs in the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas were an average of 2.4 times as high – a difference of $11,000 a year – for homes near schools whose average test scores put them in the top fifth of schools in the area, compared with schools in the bottom fifth.
That means that a family would have to pay more per year to move into a good public school zone than for their children to attend some private schools. Translated into an average home price, the gap works out to an average of $205,000 more for a home near a high-performing school.
“We think of public education as being free, and we think of the main divide in education between public and private schools,” Mr. Rothwell said in an interview. “But it turns out that it’s actually very expensive to enroll your children in a high- scoring public school.” Mr. Rothwell said that in the New York metropolitan area, for example, annual housing costs are $16,000 higher on average in neighborhoods near high-performing schools than in neighborhoods near low-performing schools, compared to the average annual tuition at Catholic schools of around $6,000.

The study also found that the average low-income student – defined as a student who is eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches – attends a school that scores in the 42nd percentile on state tests. In other words, well over half of the schools in the state have higher average test scores than schools attended by poor students. By contrast, the average middle- or high-income student (one not eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches) attends a school whose average state test scores put it at the 61st percentile.
Mr. Rothwell said that the study could not determine whether the average test scores at schools attended by low-income students fell below the average test scores at schools attended by higher-income students because low-income students had less academic support at home or because the quality of teaching was worse. But he noted that other studies showed that when students from low-income backgrounds attended schools with higher-income students and higher average test scores, those lower-income students improved their own test performance.
The study also found that within metropolitan areas, those with higher levels of economic segregation between neighborhoods and school zones had even wider gaps between average test scores. Of the 10 metro areas with the widest gaps in average test scores, six were in the Northeast, including Hartford, Buffalo and Philadelphia.
Zoning may play a role in excluding lower-income families from neighborhoods where there are high-performing schools. The study found that in areas where zoning codes prohibited the development of multifamily rental units or smaller houses, the cost of living near a high-performing school was even higher than in places where affordable housing units were sprinkled in with more expensive housing stock.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

The Divided Brain

The Divided Brain by Iain McGilchrist

Click here to view video.

In this new RSAnimate, renowned psychiatrist and writer Iain McGilchrist explains how our 'divided brain' has profoundly altered human behaviour, culture and society. Taken from a lecture given by Iain McGilchrist as part of the RSA's free public events programme. To view the full lecture, go to

Sir Ken Robinson on Educational Reform.

Sir Ken Robinson on Educational Reform.
Click here to view video.

This animate was adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert and recipient of the RSA's Benjamin Franklin award.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Articles listed by Author

Author Date The Horace Mann League Blog  (
Abrams, Samuel 12-Feb What the United States could learn from Finland about education reform.
Ayers, John 12-Jan A Discussion on Charter Schools
Bagin, Richard 11-Jun Disabling the Education-Bashing Bandwagon ... 
Baker & Weiner 11-Dec Productivity Research, U.S. Dept. of Ed., and High Quality Evidence
Barkan, JoAnne 11-Jul The Grand Coalition Against Teachers, 
Beaumonte, Phyllis  12-Feb Reject emphasis on charter schools unless safeguards in place
Beckford, Joe 12-Jan Chinese Students Wanting to Attend US Schools
Berliner, David 10-Dec Words of Wisdom: Research, Public Education, and Public Policy, 
Bessie, Adam 11-Jan Let's Not "Reform" Public Education,
Bill Ferriter, Bill 11-Nov Innovation Interview Questions, 
Bracey, Gerald 11-Apr The Truth and Consequences of NCLB,
Brady, Marion 11-Jan Has Public Education Peaked, 
Bruckner, Martha 11-Mar Privatization of the Public Schools: Pending Legislation, 
Burbank, John   Here's what education reform ought to look like
Chaltain, Sam 11-Aug How Many Sacred Cows Does It Take to Sustain A Movement? 
Chomsky, Noam 12-Apr The Assault on Public Education
Chrispeels, Janet 11-Jul Collective Trust: Why Schools Can't Improve Without It,
Cole, Kaitlyn 12-Feb 10 Telling Studies Done on Longer School Days
Collins, Gail 11-May Reading, ’Riting and Revenues,
Connie Goddard 12-Mar Finnish Lessons: What Can the World Learn from Educational Change in Finland?
Cowen and others 12-Apr Going Public: Who Leaves a Large, Longstanding, and Widely Available Urban Voucher Program?
Cuban, Larry 11-Sep Serviceable Myths about the Dilemma-Laden Superintendency,
Darling-Hammond, Linda 11-May The Service of Democratic Education,
Darling-Hammond, Linda 11-Jan What High-Achieving Nations are Doing to Prepare Students,
Darling-Hammond, Linda 11-Apr Test or invest? How NCLB Treats Schools Serving Nation’s Neediest
Darling-Hammond, Linda   Value-Added Evaluation Hurts Teaching
Derringer, Nancy 12-Mar In Michigan charter schools, results no better than other public schools
Derringer, Nancy 12-Mar In Michigan charter schools, results no better than other public schools
DeWitt, Peter 12-Mar Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing: The Issue of Retention
Easton, Billy 11-Sep Cuomo Fails Public Schools, 
Edgoose, Julian 11-Oct Hope in the Unexpected: How Can Teachers Still Make a Difference?  
Education Week 12-Jan Report Awards Grades for Education Performance, Policy; Nation Earns a C
Egan, Kieran  10-Dec Conflicting Goals of Education: An Interview with 
Ewards, Mark 12-Feb Our Digital Conversion
Fang, Lee 11-Nov How Online Learning Companies Bought America's Schools,
Farhi, Paul 11-May Five myths about America’s schools, 
Farhi, Paul 11-Apr Five Myths About the Common Core State Standards,
Farhi, Paul 12-Jan Five myths about America’s schools
Farhi, Paul 12-Apr Flunking the Test
Fast Company Staff 11-Jan How would you spend $100 million on Education? 
Fiske, Edward 12-Mar Are International Comparisons Useful?
Florence 11-Jun Another Look at the Mooresville Story – Connecting the Millennials, 
Fredricks, Jennifer 11-Jul Extracurricular Activities: An Essential Aspect of Education, 
Gardner, Walt 12-Feb Evaluate Teachers and Doctors the Same Way
Gelberg, Denise 11-Jun Our Ailing Economy and the Education Cure, 
Giroux, Henry A.  12-Mar The Scorched-Earth Politics of America's Four Fundamentalisms
Glass, Gene  11-Nov Fertilizer, Pills & Magnetic Strips Charter Schools: Making Public Schools Private
Granowsky, Alvin 11-Sep No Child Left Behind—A Tale of Unintended Consequences, 
Gregg & Gregg 11-Aug The Paradox of Education Reform, 
Hankins. Lamar 11-Sep Football for Jesus has Begun Again, 
Hardison, Cathleen 11-Feb No Child Left Behind: The Football Version, 
Hardy, Lawrence 11-Nov The Voucher Revival, 
Hardy, Lawrence 11-May Connected to the Future: Mooresville graded Schools, by 
Harvey, James 11-Nov Privatization: A Drain on Public Schools,
Harvey, James 11-Mar Should Public Schools Do More to Protect Themselves from Privatization? 
Heckman & Montera 11-Jan School Reform: The Flatworm in a Flat World, 
Hollingworth, Liz 11-Aug Unintended Educational and Social Consequences of the NCLB, 
Holman, Evelyn 11-Mar Privatization of Public Schools: Charters and Vouchers, 
Jennings, Jack 11-Nov Higher Wages Would Attract, Keep Better Teachers,
Jennings, Jack 11-Jul School Districts at Funding Cliff,
Jennings, Jack 12-Feb Reflections on a Half-Century of School Reform
Jessen & DiMartino 11-Dec Corporate Style Schooling: Marketing for Private Gain,  
Jilani, Zaid 11-Jul Meet the Billionaires Attempting to Takeover Public Educations, 
Johnson, Steven 11-Mar Where Good Ideas Come From, 
Jukes, Ian 10-Dec Digital Kids, 
Kohn, Alfie 11-May “Well, Duh!” -- Ten Obvious Truths That We Shouldn’t Be Ignoring
Kohn, Alfie 10-Dec The Deadly Effects of Tougher Standards in Education. 
Kristof, Nicholas 11-Oct Occupy the Classroom, 
Krugman, Paul 12-Mar Ignorance Is Strength
Laitsch, Dan 11-Jun Taking Stock of Private School Vouchers, 
Lakoff, George 11-Feb What Conservatives Really Want, 
Lemann, Nicholas 11-Sep Schoolwork, 
Levin, Ben 11-Oct Research, Knowledge and the Teaching Profession, 
Lezotte & Snyder 11-Oct The Correlates of Effective Schools,
Lynch, Matthew 12-Jan Understanding Parental Involvement
Mack, Julie 11-Jun Is it fair to compare test scores between public and private schools? 
Maddow, Racheal 11-Apr Comparing Authoritarian or Libertarian Conservatism, 
Marchant, Gregory 11-Apr Myth-Based Education Policy,
Marder, Michael 11-May Poverty/Schools/Charters/and American Technical Dominance, 
Marx, Gary 11-Mar Privatization of Public Schools: Intentions and Consequences, 
Mathis, William 11-May Beware of Economists Bearing Education Reforms,
Matt Damon 12-Feb The American Teacher (a documentary)
McDiarmid, Bill 11-Jun Are we creating dual school systems with charters, vouchers? 
McKay, Jack 11-Apr Playing Golf under Educational Accountability Rules, 
McKay, Jack 12-Jan "Ten Reasons Why Charter Schools Could Improve Education, but…."
Meier, Deborah 11-Dec Schooling for Ruling
Merrow, John 11-May The International Divide: School Reform, 
Merrow, John 12-Jan Education predictions for 2012
Michie, Gregory 11-Apr The Trouble with 'Innovation' in Schools,
Miller, Lisa 11-Nov Facts and Beliefs are Processed in Exactly the Same Way. 
Morrell & Noguera 11-Aug A Framework for Change: An Approach to School Reform, 
Moyers, Bill 11-Feb Facts Still Matter ... 
NCEE 11-May Ten Myths About Education in the U.S. - What It Will Take to Fix Schools, 
Nelson and Greenough 12-Apr MYTH: American employers cannot find a sufficiently educated American workforce.
NYC Educator 11-Mar Next Season on Survivor, 
Payzant, Thomas 12-Feb The Problem With School Accountability Systems
Perry and McConney 12-Jan Does the SES of the School Matter?
Poole, Isaiah 11-Jan Starve Public Education: Top Ten Ways the Right Will Wreck Recovery, 
Quillen, Ian 10-Nov Mooresville, N.C., educators strategy to link technology to achievement, 
Ramey, Jessie B. 12-Apr What I Told The White House About Public Education
Ravitch Diane 11-Dec The Death and Life of the Great American School System
Ravitch, Diane 11-May How Much Influence Should Corporations Have on Education Policy?
Ravitch, Diane 11-Sep American Schools in Crisis,
Ravitch, Diane 11-Jun Waiting for a School Miracle, 
Ravitch, Diane 11-Jan On Charter Schools, Diane Ravitch Debates James Merrimam, 
Ravitch, Diane 11-Feb Charters, Vouchers, and Policy Makers, ) (HML Annual Meeting)
Ravitch, Diane 11-Feb Why America's teachers are Enraged,  (CNN Interview)
Ravitch, Diane 11-Dec Whose children have been left behind?
Ravitch, Diane 12-Jan Changing the Poisonous Narrative
Ravitch, Diane 12-Jan Diane Ravitch Shares Views on Education Reform Efforts
Ravitch, Diane 12-Feb Schools We Can Envy - Finland Public Education
Ravitch, Diane 11-Jan Cultural Shock, by Barry Lynn interviewing Diane Ravitch
Rawls, Kristen 12-Mar Barely Literate? How Christian Fundamentalist Homeschooling Hurts Kids
Realink Films 12-Jan Race to Nowhere video clip
Reeves, Douglas 11-Dec Choosing Choice, 
Resmovits, Joy 12-Feb Charter School Segregation Target Of New Report
Riddle, Mel 11-May PISA: It's Poverty Not Stupid,
Robinson, Sir Ken 11-Mar Changing Education Paradigms, 
Rothkopf, Ernst 11-Jan Elephant Tale - The Search for Grand Magical Remedies, 
Sadovnik, A. 11-Apr Waiting for School Reform: Charter Schools as Latest Imperfect, 
Sahlbery, Paul 12-Apr Four questions about education in Finland
Sahlbery, Paul 12-Apr What can we learn from educational change in Finland?
Salovey & Solovey 10-Jan Does Your Personality Influence Who You Vote For? 
Schrag, Peter 11-Jun Vouchers: They're Baaaaaack! 
Schwartz, Allen 12-Feb Mooresville’s Shining Example (It’s Not Just About the Laptops)
Shatzty,Joel 11-Jan If Doctors Were Treated Like Teachers, 
Sirota, David 11-Dec What Real Education Reform Looks Like
Skellon, Nick  10-Nov Why Emotion Will Usually Outweigh Logic In The Audience's Brains.  
Slavin, Robert 12-Feb Kiss Your Textbook Goodbye
Soul, Stephanie 11-Dec Profits and Questions at Online Charter Schools , 
Stellar, Art 11-Nov Welcome to the Jungle: The First 100 Days of a Superintendency,
Strauss, Valerie 11-Jul Stand for Children: A Hometown Perspective of its Evolution, 
Strauss, Valerie 12-Apr Best part of ‘schools-threaten-national-security’ report: The dissents
Strauss,Valerie 11-Nov NAEP: A flawed benchmark producing the same old story, 
Strauss,Valerie 12-Jan A primer on corporate school reform
Sylvia, Crystal 11-Jul The Corporate Hijacking of Public Education,
Tabachnick, Rachel 11-Jul School Choice: Taxpayer-Funded Creationism, Bigotry, & Bias,
Tavernise, Sabrina 12-Feb Education Gap Grows Between Rich and Poor, Studies Say
Thomas, Don 11-Jul Advocacy Groups to Promote Privatization of Public Education,
Thomas, Don 11-Aug Effective Education for Diverse Student Populations, 
Turner, Randy 11-Oct No Child Left Behind Plan Doomed to Failure, 
Underwood & Mead 12-Mar A smart ALEC threatens public education
Underwood, Julie 11-Jul Starving Public Schools, 
Vollmer, Jamie 11-Apr The Blueberry Ice Cream Story: A Businessman Learns a Lesson,
Vollmer, Jamie 12-Feb The Ever Increasing Burden on America’s Public Schools
Ward, Olivia 12-Jan ALEC - America’s Secret Political Power
Watkins, William 11-Dec The Assault on Public Education: Confronting the Politics of Corporate School Reform
Wills & Sandholtz 11-Jan Constrained Professionalism: Dilemmas of Accountability, 
Zubrzycki, Jackie 12-Mar Studies Find Charters Vary in Quality, Creativity

Friday, April 13, 2012

MYTH: American employers cannot find a sufficiently educated American workforce.

by Steve Nelson and Richard Greenough

FACT: In 2010, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 69 percent of the occupations in American had educational requirements of a high school diploma, its equivalent or less. An additional 11 percent required some postsecondary education of less than a baccalaureate level.  Nonetheless, 48% of employees with Bachelor’s degrees or higher filled these positions, representing 18% of all individuals employed by those jobs.  

One in five workers are educationally overqualified for their current job and half of the individuals holding baccalaureate degrees hold positions with requirements not equivalent to their educational attainment.

Typical Education Needed for Entry
Number Employed Holding Bachelor’s Degree or Higher*
Total Number Employed in Occupation*
Percent Employees with Bachelor’s or Higher
Less than high school
High school diploma/equivalent
Some college, no degree
Postsecondary non-degree award
Associates Degree
Bachelor’s Degree
Master’s Degree
Doctoral/Professional Degree
*Numbers in thousands.

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