The Washington Post reports that Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced eight more states received waivers from No Child Left Behind (NCLB) requirements. This brings the total number of states to receive waivers to nineteen; seventeen other states plus Washington, DC have applications under review. Duncan argued that Congress’ stalled efforts to rewrite NCLB over the past five years necessitated the waiver process: “We prefer a bipartisan rewrite of No Child Left Behind. Obviously, that’s not where Congress is right now. . . . Children can’t wait. Teachers can’t wait. We’re moving forward right now.”
Calculating the Common Core Cost
The Thomas B. Fordham Institute issued a report that estimated the cost of implementing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for math and reading. The authors used three scenarios varying the adoption rate of electronic textbooks; gross costs ranged from 1.5 to 3 percent of annual K-12 education spending. After considering current outlays for instructional materials, the authors calculated that CCSS implementation in forty-five states and DC could cost as much as $8.2 billion, or save over $0.9 billion if electronic instruction materials are widely adopted.
The recent report of the CFR Independent Task Force on U.S. Education Reform and National Security highlights the importance of the CCSS and asserts that fixing the nation’s underperforming K-12 schools is critical to economic competitiveness and national security.
Education and human capital. Read more from experts discussing ways to improve U.S. education and immigration policies.
International Trade and Investment
Flat Manufacturing Wages Aid Revival
Since bottoming out in 2010, U.S. manufacturing employment is up 4.3 percent, but expanding domestic production is aided by flat wages (WSJ). While average wages in manufacturing are at year 2000 levels after adjusting for inflation, there is a steady trend of manufactures adding new workers at lower rates than existing workers. Skilled workers are often in short supply and tend to fare much better. An economist with the Chicago Federal Reserve Bank anticipates upward wage pressure: “Already, you hear about the dearth of certain kinds of workers. There’s a recognition that as we train workers to be more productive and more skilled, you’d better compensate them so that they stay with you.”
CFR’s Edward Alden discusses the shortage of skilled workers in the U.S. manufacturing pipeline and the need for firms, governments, and unions to work together to encourage young people to pursue manufacturing careers, and schools to increase relevant education.
International trade and investment. Read more from leading analysts on the debate over next steps in U.S. trade policy.
New York City plans a high tech center to compete with Silicon Valley (AP). The $2 billion campus will house CornellNYC Tech, a partnership between Cornell University and the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology. The research center will focus on industries that are already strong in NYC: medical technology, digital media, and cleantech. While the Roosevelt Island site will not open until 2017, CornellNYC Tech is already taking shape. Greg Pass, Twitter’s former chief technology officer, has joined as the founding entrepreneurial officer, and Google will donate Manhattan office space from July until the campus opens (VentureBeat).
Innovation. Read more on how the U.S. capacity to innovate could play a chief role in economic growth.
Coal Under Siege
Tightening environmental regulations and the lure of low-priced natural gas are leading electrical utilities to dump coal (NYT). Natural gas is currently cheaper, pollutes less, and releases less carbon dioxide than coal, so it is gaining favor for both economic and environmental reasons. Some coal producers are ramping up lobbying efforts to forestall further regulations, while others are planning to increase exports to coal-hungry developing nations.
Infrastructure. Read more on how upgrading the nation’s aging network of roads, bridges, airports, railways, and water systems is essential to maintaining U.S. competitiveness.
The Morning Brief is compiled by Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich.