New Report Traces the Decline of the GED in Texas

The Center for Public Policy Priorities has just issued a report, “The Texas GED Problem Is Getting Worse,” which traces the steady decline in the number of Texans attempting to pass the GED  over the last five years.

Some news coverage here:

Wisconsin Governor Concerned That People Who Need Money for Food May Not Be Sufficiently Humiliated

One day I guarantee they will propose drug testing all WIOA participants, too.

Gov. Scott Walker’s administration has finalized a rule that would require able-bodied adult recipients of food stamps to be screened and possibly tested for drugs.

The move is the latest step in the ongoing battle over whether such testing is legal under federal law.

Walker has framed the issue as addressing the state’s worker shortage and as a continuation of the state’s landmark welfare reform efforts begun in the 1990s under Republican Gov. Tommy Thompson.

Employers have jobs available, but they need skilled workers who can pass a drug test,” Walker said in a statement. “This rule change means people battling substance use disorders will be able to get the help they need to get healthy, and get back into the workforce.” (my emphasis)

Walker has already implemented worker training requirements for FoodShare program participants. Since April 2015, able-bodied adults ages 18-49 have been required to participate in a worker training program or work at least 80 hours per month to maintain eligibility for Foodshare.

It all makes sense, since why else would you be out of work unless you were on drugs?

For more on Walker’s policies, see the second of the three rights covered here.

(Yes, it’s been a long time since a post. I’m not making any predictions this time about posting here with any kind of regularity, as my other commitments must take precedent these days. But this news caught my attention and was too long to tweet.)

Links of Note 8/24/16

The Hidden Costs of Low Literacy in Australia [SBS News]
Nicely organized explainer with compelling personal stories.

Rauner Signs Juvenile Justice Reform bills [Chicago Tribune]
Governor Rauner said the legislation was just one step in a larger effort that should address, among other things, the “lack of job skills” among the prison population in Illinois.

Coding Boot Camps Attract Tech Companies [Wall Street Journal]
“The Flatiron School’s 12-week course costs $15,000, but earns students no degree and no certificate (my emphasis). What it does get them, at an overwhelming rate, is a well-paying job.”

Here’s Proof That the Economic Recovery Is Over [CNBC]
What I thought was interesting here is the notion that despite the generally good news regarding employment, there is evidence to suggest that many of these jobs are not “quality jobs.”

“If the employment condition is booming why are payroll taxes falling?

There are a couple of answers to that question and neither is favorable. The BLS numbers are either wrong or the quality of new jobs created must be very poor. The latter response seems the most credible; a combination of an increase in the proportion of part-time workers and full-time jobs that provide lower compensation.”

This Helpful Chart Reveals if a Robot Is Coming For Your Job [Business Insider]
McKinsey report that purports to predict the likelihood of jobs becoming automated by analyzing work activities rather than occupations. Interesting that such human qualities as patience, empathy, and kindness aren’t on their list. Work that involves caring for others, such as caring for the elderly, sick, children etc. is an area of employment that is growing and where future needs will be great. I can’t imagine these jobs being done very well without empathetic, human interaction, even if technologies are used to assist.

I welcome your suggestions.

The Volunteer Workforce in Adult Education

Earlier this week, in preparation for a talk I was giving, I was pulling data out of the National Reporting System (NRS) on the adult education workforce. Just out of curiosity, I took a look at the states reporting the largest percentage of volunteers among their total workforce, and noticed something interesting. Here is a chart showing all states that count at least 30% of their workforce as volunteer:

Chart: States With High Proportion of Volunteers

While I’m not in a position to rank the relative quality of each of these state’s adult education systems, I can say with some confidence that most people in the field consider the systems in Massachusetts, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, and Washington to be relatively robust, high-quality, and/or innovative. Interestingly, as you can see from this chart, all of these states count a large proportion of volunteers among their workforce. In Minnesota, volunteers make up 65% of their adult education workforce.

My guess is that many people would be surprised to see so many volunteers represented among the workforce in these states because they view a large proportion of volunteers as an indicator of a relatively poor system. But while the NRS data is not the final word on adult education staffing (programs only report personnel who are administered under their adult education state plan and who are being paid out of Federal, State, and/or local education funds), it looks to me like there is probably no relationship at all between the proportion of volunteers in a state’s adult education workforce and the quality of it’s adult education system.

It would be interesting to learn more about the role of volunteers in those states that depend on volunteers to such a large degree.