During the 98-99 school year the Board, along with administrators and Key Communicators (a group of 300 community opinion leaders) embarked upon a yearlong study of what to expect in the new millennium.

We invited internationally known experts and futurists in the areas of demographics, technology, global economics and the changing American landscape to teach us. All these authorities commended RISD for being the only known school district studying change in the 21st century.

Here’s a summary of their views.

  1. Corporations will value the following abilities:
  • Team players;
  • Relate with many cultures;
  • Problem solvers;
  • Technically fluent;
  • Ability to access information more valuable than specific knowledge;
  • Workers must be well rounded in citizenship, arts, self-awareness, decision-making and social ethics, in addition to literacy and “numeracy.”
  1. The educational system and job market are mismatched.

Qualified workers for the top 20% of jobs will be scarce. People with properly matched skills will fill the middle 40% of jobs. Workers’ skills will far surpass the bottom 40% of jobs.

The U.S. educational system is preparing all students for the few top 20% of jobs.

The fastest growing professions (such as home health and occupational therapy aids to care for the aged) do not require a college education.

Computers degrade skills as much as they upgrade skills; people don’t have to be as competent with machines doing the work.

Most jobs won’t require international competitiveness.

  1. We, Texas and the United States, are becoming older and more diverse.

By 2030 Texas will be 46% Hispanic, 37% Anglo, 9% African American and 8% other, primarily Asian. 87% of the net additions to the Texas population will be minority group members.

With aging Baby Boomers, 18% of the population will be 65+ by 2030, as compared to 10% in 1990. 25% of Anglos will be 65+, but less than 12% of Hispanics will be 65+.

The future of Texas’ economy depends upon growth in minority status and income, so we must ensure all segments of society are competitive.

English is the predominant language worldwide because it is the language of commerce (Wall Street), the Internet and transportation (control towers around the world greet in English before selecting another language).

  1. Inequality between the haves and have nots in the United States is growing.
  1. The American economy is essentially self-contained and not losing ground globally.

The view that we are falling behind other industrialized nations is unfounded.

Now the Board is studying educational delivery systems and how they may adapt. I’ll keep you posted.