Open Letter to Economic Developers: We have an attitude problem

SESF just completed TechTest and TechTestJr a merit scholarship programs for 2015. It was the 9th round of TechTest for high school seniors and 4th round of TechTestJr for eight grade math students. One of the trends observed over the years, is the declining participation in both TechTest and TechTestJr. The numbers of students choosing to participate keeps declining year over year.

As the SESF Executive Director I have been concerned and have been investigating the underlying causes for this decline.  While it is a complex issue one emerging factor is that teachers do not seem to be supporting exceptional students.  There does not seem to be any effort to encourage students to compete in merit scholarship programs, where the students thinking skill sets are examined, awarded and reported.

In examining the high school API Scores for 2013 we discover that Nevada Union is 91 out of 103 schools.  Having attended the Superintendent of Schools presentation to the Board of Supervisors, it appears to me the education establishment is comfortable being in the middle of the cohort, but the numbers indicate they are at the bottom.

If the Nevada County Schools are willing to except mediocrity as an acceptable standard, we will never have exceptional schools that can be used to attract businesses to consider Nevada County as an expansion location, or new home for the whole company.  Education is one of the key factors, after quality of life and cost of living.  The quality of education is critical to recruiting much need talent  for our  existing companies.  Our schools were once near the top of the cohort of exceptional schools, but now they are sliding toward the bottom.

One of the goals that the ERC should be working on is to change the prevailing attitude in our schools that average is OK.  For the ERC to succeed in growing local business and attracting new business, we must improve the quality of our schools.

About Russ Steele

Freelance writer and climate change blogger. Russ spent twenty years in the Air Force as a navigator specializing in electronics warfare and digital systems. After his service he was employed for sixteen years as concept developer for TRW, an aerospace and automotive company, and then was CEO of a non-profit Internet provider for 18 months. Russ's articles have appeared in Comstock's Business, Capitol Journal, Trailer Life, Monitoring Times, and Idaho Magazine.
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