#60 America's Failing High Schools: Ideas That Work - Liz Willen

Improving America's high schools is an exceptionally complex and difficult task. But all across the country the most enlightened educators are working to narrow the gap between student achievement and the needs of an evolving workplace.

Our guest, Liz Willen, is editor-in-chief of the groundbreaking  Hechinger Report. Using solutions journalism, data, stories and research from classrooms and campuses, Hechinger looks at how education can be improved and why it matters.

"The best high schools, whether they're charter or public, to me have a sense of purpose: A central idea and a team working together," Liz tells us in this episode of "How Do We Fix It?"

 But there are scores of barriers to providing children with the education they need to succeed in later life.  This learning gap between where we are and where the country needs to be is one reason why so many Americans feel disillusioned about the future. 

 "Kids are coming out of the high schools not ready for the jobs that are going to be available and often not ready for college level work."

Solutions:

  • How can we improve our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) instruction? Half of all U.S. high schools do not offer calculus. Only 63% have courses in physics. These are 2 concrete solutions:

 1. The Woodrow Wilson Foundation offers a teaching fellowship for people who have a background in STEM and would like to teach in “high-need” secondary schools.

 2. P-TECH (Pathways in Technology Early College High School) is a partnership between IBM and the City University of New York. Students are taught core subjects as well as computer science. Graduates complete 2 years of college work. After graduation, alumni have the opportunity to get a job with IBM. P-TECH will be opening another 25 high schools over the next 3 years, stay tuned

  • Why project-based learning can boost achievement and lead to greater engagement among high school students.
  • The need for more guidance counselors to help kids with psychological, social and academic issues.
  • The importance of role models in schools that struggle with violence and high drop out rates. 

We also learn a fundamental lesson: Why one-size-fits-all solutions usually don't work.

#59 Why the Human Touch Still Matters: Steve Hilton

When is the last time you called a big company or government agency and after two or three rings, a real live human being answered the phone and said "Hello, how can I help you?" 

From big data, automation, complex algorithms and giant corporations to massive government bureaucracy, we've lost the human touch.  Everyday life often seems increasingly impersonal.

 

Our guest, Steve Hilton, argues for radical change.  The former senior policy advisor to ex-British Prime Minister David Cameron has co-authored  "More Human: Designing a World Where People Come First."  The book is a clarion call for reform of government, law, education, welfare and business systems.
 
"I think one of the most destructive and damaging words in the entire world right now both in government and the private sector is efficiency, "Steve tells us in this episode. "In the name of efficiency really stupid and inhuman things are often done."

Find out what he's talking about and what fixes he has in mind... "More Human" and link to Crowdpac, where voters make a difference to how we run politics. 

We also interviewed Hilton about Brexit; to listen to that interview click here.

#44 Our Problem with Science. Ainissa Ramirez: How Do We Fix It?

We have a problem in our society.  Too many people don't understand science or the importance of the scientific method.

Many children aren't learning the basics of math and science, which closes off a broad range of career opportunities.

It's also a problem in our civil society.  A broader understanding of how science works would help parents know why they need to vaccinate their kids or what's going on with climate change.

Science evangelist Ainissa Ramirez has some great fixes.  She's the author of "Save Our Science" and "Newton's Football," a lively book about the science of America's favorite sport. Ainissa is dedicated to making science fun for people of all ages.  Her excellent two-minute podcast, "Science Underground," helps spread the word.

"We all start off as scientists," Ainissa tells us in this episode. "If you look at a 4-year-old's hands, they're completely dirty, because they're engaging with the world. But then something happens. School happens"

The science knowledge deficit holds back many girls and minorities. But Ainissa says "girls used to rock STEM at one point."  Find out what happened in this episode of "How Do We Fix It?"