Still more evidence of the importance of investing in education, research and infrastructure

Isabel V. Sawhill of The Brookings Institution provides insight into the slowdown of middle class income gains.

…it turns out that the biggest source of the slowdown is the poor performance of productivity since 1995 compared to the earlier postwar period.

It’s worth reading the post in its entirety (it’s short), but this statement stands out.

…new technologies are contributing to growing income inequality. Because these technologies are replacing unskilled and even some medium-skilled jobs, we are left with the worst of both worlds – disappointing increases in productivity and declining opportunities for those without the education and skills to benefit from the new technologies. 

The solution cannot be to slow down the pace of technology. It must be to encourage innovation, retrain workers, invest in the next generation, and help those dislocated by the changes. Yet we are not investing in research, in education, and in infrastructure in the same way we did in earlier decades.

Washington lawmakers made progress this session (though we still need to get the transportation package across the goal line and retain high graduation standards). Unprecedented increases in K-12 spending, tuition cuts in higher education and the first comprehensive transportation plan in a decade provide the best path to improved opportunity for Washingtonians and economic growth.

Stateline reports other states also boosted transportation investment in the 2015 legislative session. 

Also, preliminary test results here show students doing better than anticipated on the Smarter Balanced exams

Still, the passage rates dropped on the new tests, called Smarter Balanced, which are billed as tougher than the exams they replaced and are based on the Common Core learning standards that most states now use.

The tests provide valuable information that will lead to improved academic performance. Consistent with Sawhill’s analysis, to expand opportunity we need for all students to have the knowledge and skills required in a society driven by innovation and technology.