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Granite Views - Fred Bramante
Retooling education

12/11/14
By Fred Bramante



 Once thought to be a near impossible task, the notion that we can and must change our education system is gaining momentum. But it shouldn’t be changed simply for the sake of change. There must be a meaningful purpose to change.

 
Recently, the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies published a paper outlining the economic challenges of our state. Many good New Hampshire companies are struggling to find the workers that they need to grow. Furthermore, that lack of a workforce-ready environment is a deterrent to attracting other good companies to New Hampshire. Making matters worse, many of our young people are leaving the state because they can’t find the jobs that they want. Something is very wrong.
 
It’s clear that our education system, as currently configured, isn’t meeting the needs of our workforce. In fact, it was never designed to do so. For the most part, the education world did its thing with little regard or contact with the business world. It assumed that if students could read, write, calculate and communicate, students would be equipped to find their path. While in many senses that still holds true, there are significant disconnections that are already having serious short- and potentially long-term impacts on our state’s economy. Unless corrected, this problem will impact the quality of life in our state.
 
More than ever, business and education need to be joined at the hip to ensure that the education our students are receiving will put them in a position to pursue not only their passions and dreams, but the jobs that will actually be available. The good news is that, I believe, the parties on both ends, education and business, are understanding this more than ever.
 
I meet with Manchester Superintendent Dr. Debra Livingston fairly regularly. Last week, we met with the high school principals. There seems to be agreement that we need to connect student interest to community opportunities, especially, in great Manchester companies like Dyn, SilverTech and Newforma. These companies are stepping to the plate with projects like STEAMAhead, and the 1,000 Mentors for Manchester project.  More and more our students will be embedded in business facilities around the city, learning in hands-on, real-world environments the skills that they need to meet the workforce demands of our region and their futures.
 
It’s very exciting! The  winds of change in education are blowing in Manchester.
 
Fred Bramante is the past chairman and member of the NH State Board of Education. He speaks and consults on education redesign. 
 





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