Pathways to the Future: QCC President addresses WEC Annual Meeting

“Education paves the path for the future,” said Dr. Luis Pedraja, president of Quinsigamond Community College, the guest speaker at WEC’s 8th annual meeting.  “…we must find creative pathways that align our curriculums and create a college bound culture not in high school, but as early as elementary school,” Pedraja said.

“Worcester Education Collaborative’s mission certainly resonates with my own commitments to ensuring student success,” Pedraja noted. “Preparing our children for success in college, career, and life is not only a calling, but a duty that falls upon everyone in our community.”

 

You can read Dr. Pedraja’s entire address here

 

Following are more highlights of his talk:

Dr. Pedraja outlined challenges facing Massachusetts educators:

Skilled workforce: Current research shows that by 2020, about 65% of job openings in the Commonwealth will require some college. However, on average we come short of that mark by 15-30% in most communities. The numbers are significantly lower for low-income, minority, and immigrant populations that comprise a growing a number of our community. This gap, unless addressed, will create greater income inequality and could lead to an economic collapse.

The devaluation of education: a growing tendency in our society to diminish the value of education, even to see it as suspect or as unnecessary expense….education is an economic driver. An educated workforce bring industry, increases wealth and buying power, foster innovation, and more engaged in society. Investing in education, is an investment in our future.

It takes a community: We have heard that it takes a village to raise a child; in the same way, I believe it takes a community to educate our students. Whether it is through the creation and expansion of mentoring programs, working with community based organizations to expand wrap around services, or aligning the multiple programs to ensure a seamless pathway, as a community we must take education seriously and be involved in the education of our children –all of our children, regardless of who they are or where they live. The future of our city and community depends on it.

Eliminating barriers: We also need to stop measuring education by the time students spend in the classroom and instead look toward outcomes opening the path for us to explore competency based education and distributed learning models that will increase flexibility and shorten time to degree.

As I See It: Behind the education strategic plan and how it’s progressing

"Worcester’s approach to developing a strategic plan for our public schools is unique. Unlike many communities where a plan is developed by district leadership with the support and input of the community, Worcester has taken a different path. The impetus for the plan began with and is being led by representatives of the community with the support and critical input of the district." 

WEC's executive director Jennifer Davis Carey and Tim McGourthy, executive director of the Worcester Regional Research Bureau explain the process of developing a strategic plan for Worcester's public schools. Read more here

Childhood trauma: what's happening on the national scene

 Until recently, health care professionals and educators would look at an unruly or seemingly unteachable child as the problem, said Dr. Heather C. Forkey.

“We would’ve asked the question, ‘what’s wrong with them?’” said Dr. Forkey, chief of the Division of Child Protection at UMass Memorial Medical Center. “It turns out, we were asking the wrong question.”

The right question, which she said has a lead to a “revolution” in pediatric care and education, is not what’s wrong with those kids, but what happened to them that made them that way. Many of them, researchers have discovered over the past two decades, suffered trauma that not only negatively affected their emotional well-being, but also worsened their mental health, their physical health – and even altered their DNA. Read more