The Recession Generation
At the younger end it will be those born into it. On the older end it will be those now emerging out of high school into a bleak job market. They will always be remembered as part of the “recession generation.” How students are affected by it will depend on many things—most importantly, how their own families were impacted and if they experienced a sudden change of location and school district, which can impact grades and lead to the loss of friends and involvement in important afterschool activities. For others it may lead to a change in their sense of entitlement and a focus on having less—an adjustment that has been long overdue in these times of conspicuous consumption.
How their lives will be impacted long term in regard to career choices is unknown. Our new infrastructure order will be changing it all. As the economy continues to falter, high school students across the nation are increasingly turning to career and technical-education programs so they can go directly into the workforce after graduation. Here in Connecticut, Gov. Jodi Rell plans to merge the state’s technical high schools and community colleges to create a “middle college” system, giving 10,000 technical high school students a seamless transition to their associate degree. New York’s mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is creating more and more specialized schools to offer more school choice.
Younger recession generation students may be blessed indirectly by the sky falling in with the new initiatives that President Obama and Arne Duncan are discussing now: analyzing testing data that schools were mandated to collect and taking swift action on the results; increasing merit pay for good teachers and weeding out the less effective; repurposing schools as community centers, impacting working families and teen issues in one fell swoop.
As students are expected to learn more complex and analytical skills in preparation for work and life in the 21st-century global economy, teachers in turn must be expected to teach in ways that develop those higher order skills. In this issue, news editor Zach Miners writes about classroom technology integration, which targets the importance of professional development. As part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, 25 percent of the $650 million allocated through the Enhancing Education Through Technology program must be used for professional development in this area. In “Keeping Track of Technology,” products editor Kurt Dyrli fills you in on the new asset management software trends. With the advanced use of technology comes the need for IT departments to manage it all. The current ratio of computers to staff is off the charts—not including the additional hardware in use in by administrators, teachers, and support staff.
While Obama and Duncan are encouraging educators to look forward, to prepare students for the world of the 21st Century, we would do well this month also to look to the past—specifically to April 20, 1999, in Littleton, Colo. On the tenth anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre, Kenneth Trump, president of National School Safety and Security Services, writes about how school security has changed since that awful day, and Angela Pascopella, senior editor, has a conversation with Cynthia Stevenson, the superintendent of Jefferson County (Colo.) Public Schools. Children not only need great teachers and access to technology, but they need to be safe.
Judy Faust Hartnett, Editor