Friday Roundup: STEM endorsements, Best states for schools, McCleary response, small downtowns, joblessness, Ex-Im Bank

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Education Week: States Adopt STEM Seals for High School Diplomas

Colorado’s new law is unusual in the degree of participation educators had in shaping it, but it is not unique. Within the last school year, at least two other states created a diploma endorsement in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

STEM endorsements are still so new overall that there are few insights on how they will play out on the ground for students—and whether the new credentials will come to signify anything of value to employers or colleges.

For now, advocates in the STEM fields generally are of two minds on the development of these new credentials. Many are supportive of incentives to enrich what’s often seen as high schoolers’ anemic diet of math and science. But advocates also say schools will face challenges in ensuring that all students will have the opportunity to earn them.

The Daily News: Millennium gets key win in aquatic land lease case

Millennium Bulk Terminals Friday again won a victory in its ongoing legal fight over the state’s denial of a lease for the proposed Longview coal dock. But the case is far from over.

Cowlitz County Superior Court Judge Stephen Warning agreed with Millennium that the scope of the case should be narrow, which will likely make it more difficult for environmental groups to raise issues of climate change in defending the state’s sublease denial…

The coal terminal would create more than 1,000 construction jobs, 130 permanent jobs and $5.4 million in annual state and local taxes, according to the EIS.

Civic centers, government hubs, tourism and entertainment districts, and educational and medical clusters are all great things; they’re an important part of what makes downtowns tick. But commerce—true private sector commerce—is the beating heart of a downtown.

Because economies are dynamic, cities can’t simply rely on legacy employers to fill this role. They must always be creating new industries and new firms. After making great progress rebuilding the architectural, cultural, touristic, entertainment, and residential life of these downtowns, this is the next challenge for these smaller cities…

While you can’t plan an economy the way you can plan a convention center, urban leaders need to have private sector job growth in their downtowns at the top of their agenda.

Washington Research Council: Legislature, AG to Court: McCleary Response is Complete

Yesterday the Legislature submitted what could be its final report to the state Supreme Court on its progress in responding to the McCleary decision. The Attorney General (AG) also submitted the state’s memorandum outlining why the state believes “the Court should dissolve its order of contempt against the State, relinquish jurisdiction, and terminate this appeal.”

During the 2017 legislative session, the Legislature enacted EHB 2242 to complete compliance with the McCleary decision, and the 2017–19 operating budget funds the bill.

City Journal (Glaser): The War on Work and How to End It

In 1967, 95 percent of “prime-age” men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. During the Great Recession, though, the share of jobless prime-age males rose above 20 percent. Even today, long after the recession officially ended, more than 15 percent of such men aren’t working. And in some locations, like Kentucky, the numbers are even higher: fewer than 70 percent of men lacking any college education go to work every day in that state.

The rise of joblessness—especially among men—is the great American domestic crisis of the twenty-first century. It is a crisis of spirit more than of resources. The jobless are far more prone to self-destructive behavior than are the working poor. Proposed solutions that focus solely on providing material benefits are a false path. Well-meaning social policies—from longer unemployment insurance to more generous disability diagnoses to higher minimum wages—have only worsened the problem; the futility of joblessness won’t be solved with a welfare check. The loss of work for so many also reflects the emergence of a modern labor market with little interest in less skilled job seekers…

Joblessness is disproportionately a condition of the poorly educated. While 72 percent of college graduates over age 25 have jobs, only 41 percent of high school dropouts are working. The employment-rate gap between the most and least educated groups has widened from about 6 percent in 1977 to almost 15 percent today.

Wallet Hub: 2017 States with the Best & Worst School Systems

Unlike other research that focuses primarily on academic outcomes or school finance, however, WalletHub’s analysis takes a more comprehensive approach, accounting for performance, funding, safety, class size and instructor credentials. To determine the top-performing school systems in America, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 21 key measures. 

Our note: Massachusetts was #1; Washington, #24. There’s good data in the report.

IN one of the most trade-driven states in the nation, the Association of Washington Business was also one of the most outspoken employer groups in the nearly two-year federal effort to reauthorize the U.S. Export-Import (Ex-Im) Bank’s charter…

However, not every member of Congress appreciated the crucial role of the bank, including former Rep. Scott Garrett (R-New Jersey), who was nominated by President Donald Trump to be considered as the next Ex-Im Bank president and chairman.

Like the National Association of Manufacturers, the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, the Association of Washington Business is deeply concerned with the president’s nomination of Garrett to head the bank. He was one of a handful of members of Congress who outwardly expressed his desire to dismantle the Ex-Im Bank, a move that would leave hundreds of thousands of America’s small manufacturers to compete with foreign companies that have access to Ex-Im-type government loans and services within their countries.