Category Archives: community college

How Increasing Income Inequality Is Dampening U.S. Economic Growth, And Possible Ways To Change The Tide


Here is an overview from recent Standard & Poor’s economic research describing the importance of education to our country’s well-being:

  • At extreme levels, income inequality can harm sustained economic growth over long periods. The U.S. is approaching that threshold.
  • Standard & Poor’s sees extreme income inequality as a drag on long-run economic growth. We’ve reduced our 10-year U.S. growth forecast to a 2.5% rate. We expected 2.8% five years ago.
  • With wages of a college graduate double that of a high school graduate, increasing educational attainment is an effective way to bring income inequality back to healthy levels.
  • It also helps the U.S economy. Over the next five years, if the American workforce completed just one more year of school, the resulting productivity gains could add about $525 billion, or 2.4%, to the level of GDP, relative to the baseline.
  • A cautious approach to reducing inequality would benefit the economy, but extreme policy measures could backfire.

You can read the whole, lengthy article  here.

Question for a kid in school – video – 3:10

This little 3:10 video asks a question in an ‘in-your-face’ way.

Then goes on to answer it.

Then goes on to say why really matters.

Enjoy ~

Back from the polls with interesting article

Whew! Sixteen hour election day poll work took a couple of days recovery time. Definitely not as young as I used to be.

Because this article on reverse engineering in healthcare seemed to have a number of interesting parallels with Education I thought I’d pass it on in the blog. Just substitute “education” for “healthcare” in the article. Here’s a summary:

Reverse innovation works because the different conditions in higher- and lower-income settings change the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors that drive innovation.

What happens when you create health care solutions specifically for patients in low-income settings? It turns out that learning from and investing in these settings can be powerful ways to tackle problems at home that require out-of-the-box thinking. These differences include:

  1. Higher volume for lower price. Radical approaches are often needed to achieve acceptable performance at ultra-low price points.
  2. Less developed infrastructure allows rapid implementation of new solutions.
  3. Sustainability is important in resource-limited areas, favoring “green solutions.”
  4. Fewer regulations quicken the pace of innovation.
  5. Preferences are different, inspiring creative design.
  6. Overwhelming need increases the ‘purpose motive,’ fueling innovators who want to make a difference.

These six attributes make lower-income settings appealing places to create, test, and scale new ideas (In ABQ/BERNCO, think ABC Community Schools Partnership for pre-K-12 and Mission Graduate: 60,000 for K-12 and beyond).

So, just how do ideas move through a reverse innovation pipeline?

  1.  Identify a high priority problem shared between lower- and higher-income settings. For example, affordable, user-friendly diagnostics, or a mobile health information technology solution to a pressing health care issue.
  2. Innovators in lower-income settings must create a solution that spreads to the first 15% of the population, or the “early adopters.” This usually happens only if the idea is better, relevant, simple, easily tested, and visible to others. Endorsement by early adopters pushes an innovation past its tipping point, where it is then likely to spread to the population at large.
  3. The idea must cross-pollinate from lower- to a higher-income settings. Here the critical link is between lower-income early adopters and higher-income innovators. Whether these parties connect in-person or online, the quality of the interaction must facilitate sufficient trust to allow the idea to cross over. Building relationships over time helps create “spannable social distances,” such that the two parties find each other credible enough to take a risk on the other’s idea.
  4. The idea has to spread in the higher-income setting. Again the innovation must be better, relevant, simple, easily tested, and visible to others. It must also overcome the resistance of existing infrastructure and other established solutions. If the idea is clearly effective in lower-income settings, this can help lower the barrier to adoption.

The article provides three very interesting real-world examples in Diagnostics, Health IT, and Service Delivery.

In short, reverse innovation has tremendous potential to align incentives and disrupt existing systems and technologies. We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg (or, as their African colleagues like to say, the ears of the hippopotamus – I just love that analogy).

Also … beware the resistance inherent in disrupting existing systems.

What can we do to increase the pace of reverse innovation? For starters, we can:

  • Identify high-priority problems that could potentially be solved in lower-income settings.
  • Empower lower-income innovators and early adopters through seed funding, competitive “innovation awards,” or other mechanisms.
  • Bring lower-income early adopters and higher-income innovators together through conferences or learning collaboratives (live or virtual).
  • Track reverse innovation activity globally, identifying and removing barriers to spread.

Many intractable problems in health care could be solved if we accelerated the spread of ideas through the reverse innovation pipeline. To do this, we will need to think differently, invest in reverse innovation, and work together to solve common problems.

Again, think of the work being done today by ABC Community Schools Partnership for pre-K-12 and Mission Graduate: 60,000 for K-12 and beyond.

Read the complete article here.

Employers increasingly emphasizing ‘soft skills’

A recent Associated Press article by Paul Wiseman says that top employers want college graduates with skills that don’t show up on school transcripts. I am hearing the same thing from local small and medium businesses about high school and community college graduates. So it’s across the board national and local.

Good potential employees have acquired the necessary knowledge and/or technical skills; exceptional potential employees also have ‘soft skills.’

So, just what are these ‘soft skills?’

  • works well in a team environment – gets along with co-workers
  • can write and speak with clarity and be understood – articulates ideas
  • adapts quickly to changes in technology and business conditions – solves problems on the fly – thinks on their feet
  • can interact with colleagues from different cultures and countries

And that’s the disconnect between what can be taught in a classroom and tested for to show progress for students, teachers, principles, school systems to state agencies and legislators – and what can’t be easily classroom taught or tested that employers are looking and needing to hire.

Solution: above my pay grade, but I can see and appreciate the problem.

Ex-Governor Carruthers on world-class job force and Education in New Mexico

Back in March, Ex-Governor Gary Carruthers being interviewed on Public Radio about ethics in life, business and government was asked, “So, what would your advice be for the good of the state of New Mexico in general?”

He said his answer was very simple: create a world-class job force. And the interviewer and he both agreed that the path to that was education. Education!

Governor Caruthers went on to say that while a Masters Degree or four-year degree would be nice, recent studies of employer/society job market needs say there probably is a greater need for excellent technical and two-year training and education.

So ,,, how would you go about making this happen? What do you think would work?

Skills gap in America – Bill Clinton’s answer

Bloomberg Businessweek June 23, 2013

Jorge Ramirez, President, Chicago Federation of Labor asked: “The skills gap in America has nearly reached a crisis point. There are hundreds of thousands of unfilled high-skilled jobs, particularly in areas such as manufacturing, while millions of people are out of work. How do we reconcile this discrepancy so that businesses can maximize productivity and, more important, working men and women can secure meaningful, family-sustaining employment that builds a strong middle class?

Former President Bill Clinton’s answer: “It’s been reported that over 3 million jobs remain unfilled in the U.S., even though 7.6 percent of Americans are unemployed. Employers say they can’t find qualified applicants, despite booming enrollment at community colleges and a plethora of other training programs. Many low wage workers and others who lack post-secondary credentials already posses valuable skills that aren’t reflected on a resume. Getting people into courses or credentialing programs recognized by employers will allow job seekers both to better develop skills and to demonstrate them to employers.

“At last year’s Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI) meeting, a group of participants started a conversation about setting competency standards for educational institutions and employers to place qualified workers in open jobs. As a result, the  Business Roundtable, with support from the Joyce, ACS, and Lumina Foundations and Siemens, committed to evaluating how industry-recognized certifications can address the mismatch between what an employer needs and what a worker is trained to do. We need this kind of increased private-sector commitment to skills training, particularly when pubic resources continue to be a challenge.

“Two years ago at CGI America, we received a commitment from the AFL-CIO that is a model of private- and public-sector involvement in job creation, energy efficiency, and skills training. Organized labor committed $10 billion of public and private pension assets to energy-efficiency projects and related infrastructure investments over the next five years. it pledged to train incumbent and entry-level workers for the skills to meet industry demands.

“The Building Trades unions, in partnership with employers, dedicate considerable resources to meeting the skills gap through their jointly managed registered apprenticeship programs. These respond to the needs of industry, equip workers with skills for not only a job but also a career, and don’t cost the government any money. We should promote more of these types of partnerships to develop successful models across industries.”