LO levy advances investment in STEAM
When our family moved to Lake Oswego in the summer of 2014, we were returning to Oregon after several years living overseas and nearly three years in Westchester County, New York. As we excitedly arrived for parent night in my son's first grade classroom that fall, I was struck with feelings of both nostalgia and surprise, as his classroom looked as if it had returned from my very own elementary school experience in the mid-1980s, complete with an overhead projector.
It seemed clear to me that a classroom built for 1986 was not sufficient to educate the first generation of children to never experience life without smartphones, who will possibly not receive their driver's licenses before self-driving cars are a reality, and for whom the majority of career options that will be available upon graduation do not even exist today.
While the first phase of our bond program is thankfully underway to begin modernizing our classrooms, we also need teachers to bring those spaces to life. In addition to many other things, the LO Learning Levy will provide six new full-time positions for elementary STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) and Innovation teachers — one for each elementary makerspace.
This is a critical investment for our youngest students as rapid technological change is predicted to transform the labor force at a rate more than double that of the shift from agricultural jobs to industrial jobs in the early 1900s. Incoming kindergartners in the 2019-2020 school year will graduate high school in 2032, in the midst of anticipated economic volatility. In Bain & Company's report titled "Labor 2030: The Collision of Demographics, Automation and Inequality," they conclude that, "20%-25% of the labor force could be displaced over 10-20 years ... the coming phase of automation could eventually eliminate up to 50% of all current jobs."
And according to McKinsey & Company's report titled, "Skill Shift: Automation and The Future of the Workforce," they find that "the strongest growth in demand will be for technological skills." According to this report technological skills include basic digital skills, advanced IT skills and programming, advanced data analysis and mathematical skills, technology design, engineering and maintenance, and scientific research and development.
There couldn't be more urgency around ensuring our public education system evolves and adapts to provide our students with the skills that they will need to be successful upon graduation. Makerspaces, staffed with skilled STEAM and Innovation professionals, will build and reinforce problem solving, creativity, collaboration and critical thinking skills. These are truly the building blocks of a 21st century education.
In addition to elementary STEAM and Innovation teachers, the LO Learning Levy will add two secondary STEM and Innovation teachers, renew 80 existing teaching positions that would otherwise be unfunded, and fund seven mental health counselors, three elementary reading specialists, one and a half PE teachers and an additional school resource officer. I urge you to join me in voting 'YES' on the LO Learning Levy this May.
Sara Pocklington is a member of the Lake Oswego School Board.
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