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 Response Page - Miller  Interview -      
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These comments are responses to the statements listed below,
which were generated in regard to the
Darlene Miller  Interview of
10-11-2013.
 

Business must help Minnesota improve preparation of young people for skilled jobs

OVERVIEW

Darlene Miller believes business and industry can make a difference in education. She says most manufacturing jobs today require special skills and training, including strong math skills. Experiencing herself the widespread shortage of skilled workers for precision manufacturing jobs, she shepherded the development of Right Skills Now (RSN), a fast-tracked, credentialed education and internship program to train workers for those jobs. The program is currently in place on one private and three public community and technical college campuses in Minnesota and is spreading to other states.

Miller believes that taxes in Minnesota, especially property taxes, are too high and that the state's regulatory system is "onerous." But, she says, that is balanced off by the state's strong workforce, which, along with the strong supplier network her company needs, keeps Permac in Minnesota. She's emphatic that the quality of Minnesota's workforce is more important than any tax incentive another state might offer to try to lure Permac to relocate there.

But Miller worries that K-12 schools are not preparing students adequately for the skills they'll need in the workforce. She says many students are not well enough prepared to pass the entrance exam to enter the RSN program, because they are lacking math skills. She believes that cutting trade classes from high schools may have contributed to a higher dropout rate, because those classes helped many students understand why they should learn things like math.  

For the complete interview summary see:  Miller interview

Response Summary: Average response ratings shown below are simply the mean of all readers’ zero-to-ten responses to the ideas proposed and should not be considered an accurate reflection of a scientifically structured poll.

To assist the Civic Caucus in planning upcoming interviews, please rate these statements on today's topic on a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree):

1. Value of topic. (7.8 average response) The interview summarized today provides valuable information or insight.

2. Value of further study. (7.9 average response) It would be helpful to schedule additional interviews on this topic.

On a scale of 0 (strongly disagree) to 5 (neutral) to 10 (strongly agree), please rate the following points discussed during the meeting: 

3. Reputation of workforce at risk. (7.4 average response) Minnesota's national reputation for having a highly skilled workforce is at risk due to inadequate preparation of students in higher-level skills needed for today's jobs.

4. K-12 not providing technical skills. (8.7 average response) K-12 schools are not equipped to provide the level of technical skills that most non-college-bound students need to get a job today.

5. Strong workforce trumps taxes. (7.4 average response) Businesses need a strong, well-educated workforce even more than they need tax incentives or a favorable tax climate.

6. Schools, business should collaborate. (8.4 average response) A good way to assure an adequate workforce is for partnerships of businesses, high schools and community and technical colleges to set up fast-tracked, credentialed training and internship programs.

7. Better preparation for training needed. (9.1 average response) To qualify as applicants for such programs, students must have better foundational K-12 education, especially higher proficiency than is now required in math.

Response Distribution:

Strongly disagree

Moderately disagree

Neutral

Moderately agree

Strongly agree

Total Responses

1. Value of topic.

8%

0%

8%

50%

33%

12

2. Value of further study.

8%

0%

8%

50%

33%

12

3. Reputation of workforce at risk.

7%

0%

14%

57%

21%

14

4. K-12 not providing technical skills.

0%

7%

7%

36%

50%

14

5. Strong workforce trumps taxes.

7%

7%

7%

57%

21%

14

6. Schools, business should collaborate.

0%

7%

7%

36%

50%

14

7. Better preparation for training needed.

0%

0%

0%

50%

50%

14

Individual Responses:

Ray Ayotte  (7.5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

Anonymous   (0)  (0)  (0)  (10)  (0)  (10)  (10)

Kim Millman  (7.5)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (2.5)  (7.5)

1. Value of topic. Part of the problem is that business has to take an active role in training.  Outside the manufacturing area, businesses now hire strictly based on education credentials or résumé key word searches.  While potential employees may lack some skills, the narrow focus on purely direct education and experience ensures employers are missing out on great employees with transferrable skills who need just a bit of specific workplace training.

2. Value of further study. Yes, there should be some ability to flush out the specific needs and our current K-12 focus.  There is a way to strike a balance with changes that focus less on teaching to a test and a solid education with some depth in foundational skills.

3. Reputation of workforce at risk. Contrary to many educators and business leaders' beliefs, we lack a solid foundation in education.  It has been in vogue to continue to raise standards to the point of ridiculousness and forget about the basic skills that need to be drilled and drilled some more.  We don't need calculators in schools; we need solid math skills that will stay with students no matter their future math or career endeavors.  We need more basic reading, writing and history.  When these kids receive a solid foundation with some depth in the core subjects, the kids will have a higher capacity to learn more and acquire more skills.

4. K-12 not providing technical skills. I agree with Miller's astute observance about the fact that kids cannot absorb their education properly unless they have an interesting application for its use.  Kids hate history because of the way it is taught and the lack of an association with their current lives.  That rule follows in every subject that is taught in school.  If a kid doesn't see an application for what they are learning it will never stick.

5. Strong workforce trumps taxes. That is true.  There already are the lowest tax states and they don't do high-income jobs in those states.  We don't want to replace Mississippi with Minnesota in the race to the bottom.

6. Schools, business should collaborate. I don't think we have to invite businesses into a credentialing system.  The credentialing system will turn into a business.  We should be inviting businesses to give their input into education, however.

7. Better preparation for training needed. We certainly have to concentrate on the foundation.  The concern I have is over all the emphasis on advanced math that is rarely used at the expense of a solid depth of basic math skills that are most often used.  We have created a math education that is a mile wide and a millimeter deep.  That has to change.

Don Anderson  (5)  (5)  (7.5)  (7.5)  (5)  (7.5)  (7.5)

Anonymous   (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (2.5)  (10)  (10)

4. K-12 not providing technical skills. I believe that they used to provide [these] skills.

Scott Halstead  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)  (10)

2. Value of further study. There should be tracking on the results of this program and expansion if the results are bearing fruit.

5. Strong workforce trumps taxes. Businesses likewise need to communicate with their partner organizations that their priority is educating individuals that can perform the current and future jobs and aren't [pursuing] tax incentives and tax reduction.

Mark Ritchie   (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)  (na)

Great interview.

Fred Zimmerman   (na)  (na)  (9)  (9)  (9)  (9)  (10)

I was unable to attend the meeting, but I did read the summary and apparently some good ideas and usable observations were offered.

Wayne Jennings   (10)  (9)  (9)  (9)  (9)  (9)  (9)

Fast tracking training makes sense and has a history of success. Specific math skills need to be listed. School now teach algebra but don’t give enough attention to basic math such as percentages, decimals and fractions, not to mention addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  It was a huge mistake to reduce shop and home economics classes in high schools. They provided practical learning and served non-academic students. Students need real world experiences such as internships, volunteering and field-based learning in order to see the practical applications of math, reading and writing courses.

Carolyn Ring   (8)  (8)  (7)  (10)  (8)  (10)  (10)

There should certainly be message in the 30% increase in dropout rates when industrial arts, home economics … were dropped from the curriculum

Tom Spitznagle   (9)  (8)  (9)  (9)  (8)  (7)  (8)

Chuck Lutz   (9)  (9)  (8)  (8)  (9)  (10)  (8)

Tom Swain   (10)  (10)  (5)  (10)  (9)  (10)  (9)

Lyall Schwarzkopf   (8)  (8)  (7)  (4)  (6)  (7)  (8)

4. K-12 not providing technical skills. I believe K-12 schools are equipped to provide the level of technical skills, but they don't do it.

7. Better preparation for training needed. This is true to get things going; later when we [have] a well trained work force, it may not be true.

 

Roger A Wacek   (na)  (na)  (5)  (5)  (8)  (5)  (10)

    

The Civic Caucus   is a non-partisan, tax-exempt educational organization.   The Core participants include persons of varying political persuasions,
reflecting years of leadership in politics and business. Click here  to see a short personal background of each.

   David Broden,  Janis Clay,  Bill Frenzel,  Paul Gilje,   Jan Hively,  Dan Loritz (Chair),  Marina Lyon,  Joe Mansky, 
Tim McDonald,  John Mooty,  Jim Olson,  Wayne Popham  and Bob White


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