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Initial media coverage of Skills Commission report December 14, 2006

Posted by Tom in Education, Media, Workforce.
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The AP story is on the wire, and it’s rather comprehensive – as is the report:

The group is proposing that high school end at 10th grade for many students and that teacher pension plans be scrapped for other benefits such as higher pay and 401(k)s.

The proposals, which likely will be viewed as radical by some, were presented by a decidedly establishment group that includes two dozen ex-Cabinet secretaries, school officials and business executives, along with top government leaders from the major political parties.

…The new group wants to end high school in 10th grade for many students — a point at which students would be able to take exams and go to a community college or, in some cases, stay in school and study for more advanced exams that could earn them a place at a four-year college. Somewhat similar systems are in place in other countries.

The report states that by not spending today’s resources on 11th- and 12th-graders and by making other reforms, the government could save an estimated $60 billion that could be spent on improvements to the nation’s school system.

Those include creating widespread pre-kindergarten programs and boosting teacher salaries.

The commission recommends paying beginning teachers about $45,000 per year, currently the median amount paid to teachers. To help finance the pay boost, the commission recommends moving away from traditional, defined benefit pensions to somewhat less generous retirement plans more commonly found in the private sector.

Another major shift would be to have independent contractors operate schools, though the schools would remain public. States would oversee the funding.

Interesting – the one quote from the article:

Marc Tucker, president of the National Center on Education and the Economy, said the panel felt there was no choice but to call for a major policy shift to address problems such as weak student performance and achievement gaps between white and minority students.

“They said, ‘If we don’t try something like this, we’re cooked,”‘ said Tucker, who helped organize the commission.

Let the great public debate commence.

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