Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Preparing for the Economy of the Future

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Preparing for the Economy of the Future

Article excerpt

A week ago, Shawnee County's six superintendents participated in an inaugural education forum hosted by the Greater Topeka Chamber of Commerce. At the event, GO Topeka's vice president of workforce and education, Barbara Stapleton, asked them about the ways in which districts are working with the business community. Tiffany Anderson is the superintendent of the county's largest district (USD 501), and she said business owners should be "unapologetic advocates" for students. The superintendent of USD 345, Steve Noble, agreed: "Our business community has to partner with us."

The skills and practical experience students can acquire by working with local businesses are becoming more important all the time, which is why the state is emphasizing these relationships in its new Kansans CAN school redesign project. Districts will be looking for more opportunities to match students with businesses and local organizations -- experiences that will allow them to explore different careers and assist with meaningful projects in the community. This connection with local business is only one element of the transformation that needs to take place in our K-12 education system.

The superintendents expressed an acute awareness of the need to keep up with drastic economic and technological changes that are taking place in our country.

For example, Kerry Lacock is the superintendent of USD 321, and he explains that students "will have to be adaptable, improvise and reinvent themselves over and over." Superintendent Scott McWilliams cited a Harvard study that points out how unpredictable the future job market will be, and he says his district (USD 437) is offering more career and technical courses to help students cope with inevitable innovations and shocks that are coming. Superintendent of USD 372 Tim Hallacy says artificial intelligence will pose the "biggest competition" for students and argues that "we simply can't do business like we have for the past 30, 40, 50 years. …

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