We’re spending the whole month of February on our blog unveiling the four guiding stars in our Vision Guide: excellence, equity, options, and innovation.What are these guiding stars, and why are they important? What is JerseyCAN doing to implement this value in our state, and how have we been successful?

 

Innovation is defined as “a new method, idea, product, etc.”

It’s been a big theme in Garden State history. You may already know about Thomas Edison’s light bulb and phonograph, but it turns out that New Jersey has been the site of many inventions – taylor ham to mason jars to Smarties candies and more! New Jerseyans are not content with the familiar and comfortable. Our residents clearly feel drawn to experimentation, creating, and building.

Innovation is also one of JerseyCAN’s organizational guiding stars. As we say in our Vision Guide:

New Jersey has a rich history of innovation and scientific progress—yet we see a growing skills gap between students interested in and prepared for STEM jobs. We must prepare our students to grow our innovation economy in this fast-changing global landscape.

To reach this destination, we will support pathways that increase access to STEM learning opportunities. We will foster public-private partnerships, expose students early and often to in-demand fields like computer science and identify solutions for the STEM teacher shortage. We need a strong STEM education pipeline, and a statewide vision to ensure we are thinking about equity, resources, teaching, curriculum and workforce connections in a comprehensive, creative way.”

Research and experience show us that the growing jobs of the future will be technology-driven. Just look at the rate of technological change in the last decade! With this rate of change comes growing fears about automation, displacement, and unemployment. If we can’t be certain what the technology of the future will bring, how can educational institutions prepare students for college and the workforce?

At our Age of Agility Summit last month, we gathered business, education, and policy leaders to discuss possible solutions. We learned about the importance of cross-sector partnerships, linking work experiences to classroom exercises, and enthusiasm for technology in our day-to-day lives. Being prepared for the Age of Agility means excitement and flexibility, not fear.

We are very encouraged by our state leadership’s dedication to ensuring that New Jersey students are prepared for the new economy. With enthusiastic support from JerseyCAN, Governor Phil Murphy announced his “Computer Science for All” initiative in October 2018. The FY 2019 budget includes $2 million to increase the number of schools that offer high-level computer science courses. The rollout of the initiative began last week, when the Governor announced 29 school districts that will receive this funding, opening up 900 more classroom seats in computer science courses.

The Governor also announced the introduction of the New Jersey STEM Innovation Fellowship, in partnership with Math for America (MfA). Modeled off a very successful program in New York, the fellowship provides a career development opportunity for New Jersey public school teachers focused on elementary math in high-needs schools. It comes with a $5000 stipend, a summer institute at Montclair State University, and monthly workshops hosted by participating universities in their region – Montclair State in the north, Princeton for central, and Rowan University for south. In these workshops, the thirty selected teachers will learn research-based, flexible, and innovative teaching methods that they can bring back to their various districts. JerseyCAN was excited to provide feedback and support as the program developed, and is eager to see its implementation!

Our team is very pleased with this progress, and will continue to advocate to ensure that New Jersey students are not left behind by new technology!

Check back next Tuesday for the next star!

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