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School districts are focusing more attention on manufacturing as the need for middle-skill jobs increases.

In rural Indiana, Jay School Corporation supports local manufacturers—which make up about half the private employment in Jay County—with educational programs geared to the jobs that need to be filled.

The school now has 80 students in manufacturing, advanced manufacturing and robotics programs, and is working with other organizations and a nearby college to develop a regionally recognized certificate.

“We are creating an employer-driven program for both adults and students, focusing on economic outcomes and the talent pipeline,” Superintendent Jeremy Gulley says.

Today’s deeper learning proponents urge schools to master rigorous academic content; think critically and solve problems; work collaboratively; communicate effectively; direct one’s own learning; and develop an academic mindset. 

Deeper learning doesn’t have to be expensive, says Stephanie Wood-Garnett, vice president of policy to practice at the Alliance for Excellent Education, a national advocacy group for at-risk students.

“Deeper learning is not about buying things, but deeper learning done well could allow us to think more effectively or differently on how to enhance the time we have,” Wood-Garnett says.

Across the country, for reasons both political and practical, even districts with substantial numbers of students who don’t yet know English seldom rely on native-language curricular materials.

The challenge of finding curriculum materials in languages other than English is especially complex for districts embracing a growing trend: dual-language immersion programs, in which native English speakers join English language learners in studying academic subjects in two languages.

Nearly 4,000 K12 schools have been fitted with solar installations as of 2014, according to the “Brighter Futures” report for the U.S. Department of Energy, based on data from the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Every morning, principals in the West Bridgewater School District in Massachusetts get on the PA system to lead students through a few minutes of mindful breathing exercises.

When adding a mindfulness program, superintendents and principals may face parent backlash, possibly about religious concerns, especially when it includes yoga.

Fiona Jensen, whose nonprofit trains teachers in mindfulness instruction, says she has met with “pretty conservative Christian scholars” to make sure nothing in her curriculum can be misinterpreted as promoting Buddhism or any other religion.

“We’ve learned a tremendous amount about how careful one needs to be about how the curriculum is presented,” says Jensen. 

Hattiesburg School District designs technology training to empower teachers to take charge of their own professional development by letting them decide what they want to learn, when they want to learn it and how. 

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