Fall 1998 Journal: Boston Fed Chief Outlines Workforce Development Challenges

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Fall 1998
For more information, contact:
John O. Harney, Executive Editor, Connection
email: connection@nebhe.org

Boston Fed Chief Outlines Workforce Development Challenges in noted New England Journal

New England Board of Higher Education’s Connection magazine features articles on workforce development, higher education and the media, New England museums, spirituality on campus and more.

BOSTON – New England’s colleges and universities should take steps to encourage so-called “School-to-Career” initiatives such as a Boston Private Industry Council program that links the classroom with internships in medical technology, financial services and other specific fields, according to Cathy E. Minehan, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

Writing in the Fall 1998 edition of Connection: New England’s Journal of Higher Education and Economic Development, Minehan notes: “Some would argue that School-to-Career runs a risk of dumbing down the high school experience by focusing on technical education rather than the liberal arts. But I believe that School-to-Career lends relevance to the educational experience and responds to the need among many students to have a hands-on experience as well as an intellectual one.”

“The income earned in the process is a powerful incentive as well,” notes the Boston Fed chief. “Employers will not keep a student on if he or she is not learning and performing on the job.”

Minehan observes that closer links between the classroom and the workplace would also benefit college students “and not just at the community college level, but in New England’s more renowned houses of learning as well.”

“The application of lessons learned at the workplace could lend relevance and direction to college education,” writes Minehan, adding, “How many students who must work to pay the increasing cost of a college education would be far better off if that work was linked to their educational experience, rather than perhaps waiting tables at a local restaurant?”

Minehan suggests that higher education adopt more applied learning strategies. “First, colleges and universities could be urged to give positive recognition to applicants’ School-to-Career activities and other work-based learning as part of the admissions process,” she writes. “Second, schools of education could train new teachers in the use of the workplace as a learning experience. And finally, professors could be urged to visit workplaces to develop lessons for the college classroom and strategies to extend teaching to the workplace.”

Connection is the quarterly journal of the nonprofit New England Board of Higher Education (nebhe)-and America’s only regional journal on higher education and the economy. Following is a summary of articles in the Fall 1998 issue of Connection:

Reinventing New England’s Response to Workforce Challenges

Federal Reserve Bank of Boston President Cathy E. Minehan explains how “School to Career” programs linking the classroom with internships in particular businesses could benefit both high school and college students. “Students learn the relevance of, say, biology or geometry in a much more hands-on way when they see in the workplace what they’ve learned in class,” writes Minehan. (See above.)

Where Everyone Reads … and Everyone Counts

Massachusetts Board of Higher Education Chancellor Stanley Z. Koplik calls on New England higher education, businesses and nonprofits to join forces in battling illiteracy. “When a society fosters a growing class of disenchanted, disillusioned, disheartened and disgruntled citizens who have no stake in the democratic institutions that drive civic life, the consequences are destructive,” warns Koplik. “Civil outrage and rebellion will rule, and the once prosperous civilization will cave in on itself.”

Equity for Student Borrowers

Johnson & Wales University Professor Jane Sjogren calls for equity in student lending. How? Sjogren proposes adjusting student loan repayment terms based on: family income for the period the student attended college, net cost of tuition and fees for the period of undergraduate studies, and post-college earnings for 10 to 12 years. “Given that both the individual student and society benefit from a student’s investment-and the reality that some students begin their adult lives with very large debt while others do not-some adjustment to student debt burden, at least for undergraduates, should be considered,” writes Sjogren.

On the Beat: A Former Higher Education Reporter Reflects on Coverage

Boston Magazine Senior Editor Jon Marcus explains why “American journalists in general-and education writers in particular-have become unquestioning stenographers whose reporting, to twist an old cliche, is 24 hours wide and 10 seconds deep.”

Elevating the Higher Education Beat

Connection Executive Editor John O. Harney surveys the New England’s higher education newspaper beat. “Boston-area colleges run centers for animals and public policy, war and social consequences, work and family-and notably, defense journalism,” writes Harney. “Maybe it’s time for Boston University’s College of Communication or some aspiring J-school to launch a Center for Higher Education Journalism, complete with reporters-in-residence and serious research on higher education news and news reporting.”

Press Pass: Boston News Organizations Ignore Higher Education

The Boston media aggressively cover the area’s health care enterprise. So where are they on Boston’s other towering industry? Public relations consultant Soterios C. Zoulas laments the Hub media’s inattention to higher education, noting “the worst laggard in covering higher education not surprisingly, is television news. … it’s no secret that glitz has supplanted substance.”

Technical Foul: The Growing Communication Gap Between Specialists and the Rest of Us

“With technology advancing at lightning speed, the communication gaps among different technical professionals-and between those specialists and the general public-are growing to chasm proportions,” writes nebhe Senior Fellow and Northeastern University technical writing expert Kristin R. Woolever. Though New England boasts one of the world’s greatest centers of high-tech and biotech companies and is home to an unparalleled concentration of colleges and universities, few New England colleges offer programs to close the technical communication gap. “Students are taught freshman composition-the tenets of good prose writing,” writes Woolever. “But they are not trained to speak and write in their fields of specialization.”

Treasure Troves: New England Museums Exhibit Collection of Pressures

New England is “museum-intensive,” sustaining 569 museums of all kinds-or about one for every 22,700 people, according to the American Association of Museums. But New England’s museums-much like its higher education institutions-face a new array of pressures, according to freelance writer Alan R. Earls. And if you thought you knew New England’s museums, wait until you see Connection‘s comprehensive listing.

Moments of Meaning: Religious Pluralism, Spirituality and Higher Education

Wellesley College Dean of Religious Life Victor H. Kazanjian Jr. explains how students are seeking out religious and spiritual life programs. Observes Kazanjian: “Today’s students, whatever their religious traditions and spiritual perspectives, are asking for a college community where the life of the mind is not separate from the life of the spirit.”

New England: State of Mind or Going Concern?

nebhe Senior Fellow Nate Bowditch recounts interviews with New England opinion leaders on the subject of regional opportunities and missed opportunities. “Consider how profoundly the Asian Miracle transformed America’s West Coast. Ever stop to think what could occur [in New England] if there’s an African miracle?,” asks Bowditch. “But not a single airline offers a scheduled flight from Boston to anywhere on the entire African continent,” he says, adding: “Suppose African businesses, governments and students conclude, over the next 20 years, that New England’s lack of interest and history of rocky ethnic relations suggest that the American South would be a better partner?”

We Must Represent!

Walter Lech, an American Indian who worked in construction and went to school nights before becoming a graduate researcher at Harvard Medical School and Tufts, urges other minority students to pursue science and engineering careers. “When you see that window in front of you, you’ve got to jump through it before it closes down on you and everyone else behind you, because that window can only be opened from the inside,” writes Lech. “We’ve been trying to bust it open from the outside for generations, and it hasn’t worked. The more of us who get on the inside now, the more of us will get on the inside later. We will be the ones who affect society, not by changing its laws, but by changing its mind.”

Book Reviews

What did General Electric leave behind in Pittsfield, Mass., besides hazardous waste? How can prospective college students and their families best judge a college campus? Why is New England a model for innovative environmental regulation? Connection reviews: In the Wake of the Giant: Multinational Restructuring and Uneven Development in a New England Community by Oberlin Professor Max H. Kirsch; the new Peterson’s Guide to College Visits; and the Environmental Protection Agency’s 1998 State of the New England Environment Report for Region 1.


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