OVAE Connection - April 18, 2013 Issue 146

OVAE Connection

                                                                                  April 18, 2013 - Issue 146

Important Information is now available about the Affordable Care Act, getting ready for the upcoming implementation of Health Insurance Exchanges, and the choices involved. Please share this information with your constituencies.

Worker Resilience is the Key to Creating Economic Security--Their Own and the Nation's

The National Governors Association (NGA) recently released The Cornerstones of Economic Security for Resilient Workers: A Policy Framework for Shared Action. The report, based on the assertion that today’s economy is characterized by “global competition, rapid technological change, rising demand for advanced skills, and increasing income inequity”, focuses on how to help America’s workers adapt to this new economy. The report sets forth a new framework for economic security with the goal of strengthening the link between workers’ economic security and productivity, and thus increasing U.S. competitiveness and the government’s return on its investments. The framework places worker resilience—the ability to respond and adapt to the changing economic landscape—at the core of creating their economic security. It identifies four cornerstones of economic resilience—skills and adaptability, income and savings, health and wellness, and mutual support and social networks—as the key assets individuals must have to navigate today’s economy. And it asserts that government at all levels, the private sector, communities, and individuals have shared responsibility in insuring economic security going forward and will share in the benefits of such a “worker resilience system.” Finally, the report posits that states are the critical link between all the stakeholders that can help ensure economic security. 

The report derived from a meeting of economists, business executives, policy experts, and social innovators called together by NGA in the fall of 2011, which resulted in universal support for developing the framework described above. The report examines ongoing economic changes, economic security in today’s economy, and the roles that government, business, the civic sector and individuals perform to create an approach suited to current economic and social conditions. Acknowledging that, in the wake of the recession, states have been working to build economic security, and promote a resilient workforce, A Policy Framework for Shared Action explores whether state governments can drive the kind of experimentation and innovation needed to build on and connect promising efforts from across the country. State governments possess many of the policy levers and institutional infrastructure to influence necessary change, especially in the four cornerstones of economic resilience.

Will It Be on the Test? Accountability and Public Schools

According to new research from Public Agenda and the Kettering Foundation, Will It Be on the Test? A Closer Look at How Leaders and Parents Think About Accountability in the Public Schools, parents and education leaders think about and define accountability in education in different ways—differences that may be anticipated to have important implications for the trajectory of education reform. 

Most parents, as well as most Americans, approve of the goals of the accountability movement as it has developed over the past decade and a half, especially the raising of academic standards and the promotion of students based on the mastery of content. If children are given proper guidance, most Americans accept that most can succeed in school. However, there is a fundamental difference between parents and education reformers over the issue of primary responsibility for students’ success.

“In effect, the nation seems to be having two parallel discussions about accountability in education reform.” According to the study, education leaders focus on what schools and educators should do more proficiently to raise student achievement, while the public’s focus is on student behavior and student motivation and parents’ responsibility for helping their children develop the habits and values that ensure success in school. Parents also place more of an emphasis on the role of schools in building communities. 

One of the discussions most needed, according to the authors, centers on whether the goals of schooling can best be accomplished through giving parents more options and choice about the schools their children attend, or whether reform is best accomplished through strengthening neighborhood public schools. With good arguments and what the report calls “moral reasons” on both sides, making sense of the best option, going forward, will require clear thinking in an open and cogent conversation among the stakeholders. 

The authors also identify three other areas where dialogue between parents and all the stakeholders could be fruitful: “(1) What should we do when some parents don’t take the responsibility for teaching their children to behave and work hard in school? (2) Do we have to close failing schools, and if we don’t, what can we really do to turn them around? (3) How can we help parents raise responsible children in today’s society, when there are so many mixed messages in the media and the broader culture?” 

Again, the report proposes frank conversations among all the interested parties to the issue of schooling about how to improve it and who has responsibility for which parts of the improvement.

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