Ready for Tomorrow Summit (VIDEO)

It was a morning to brainstorm ideas about the county’s future on closing the academic achievement gap and preparing young people for jobs.

The Ready for Tomorrow: Education and Workforce Summit featured three panels, each with three speakers who talked about labor force, adult education, achievement gap, partnerships between private organizations, nonprofits and government institutions.

Montgomery County Councilmember Nancy Navarro hosted the event that took place at the White Oak Community Recreation Center on Oct. 18 in Silver Spring.

“I made a decision to organize this summit because often times when we talk about the achievement gap or workforce development needs we find ourselves talking about this issues during budget or maybe when there’s a piece of legislation that has been proposed. And I feel like that really constrains our ability to truly explore the impact and the intersection between the economic achievement gap, workforce development, economic opportunities in this county,” Navarro said.

During the event, one thing was unanimous: the need to have organizations from all over the county working together. The word of the day was partnerships, and more partnerships.

Among experts were Richard Fry, senior researcher at Pew Hispanic Center; Bruce Crispell, director of the division of Long-Range Planning at Montgomery County Public Schools; Casey Anderson, chair of the Montgomery County Planning Board; DeRionne Pollard, president at Montgomery College; Joshua Starr, superintendent of MCPS; Stewart Edelstein, associate vice chancellor for academic affair at the Universities of Shady Grove; Sheril Brissett Chapman, executive director at the National Center for Children and Families; Jose Antonio Tijerino, CEO of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, and Joy Carr, senior human resources generalist at United Therapeutics.

Fry, Crispell and Anderson shared data and data predictions about county’s schools, nation’s labor force, and school enrollment.

According to Fry, the nation’s labor force will grow from about 155 million in 2012 to 195 million by 2050.

“Yes, the U.S. economy is growing and our workforce is growing. Employers are going to need roughly an extra 40 million workers, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,” Fry said.

Fry added that white labor force is projected to shrink. All the growth going forward will be among non-white workers.

“Our nation’s employers are going to need extra workers as the economy grows, all the extra workers that they will encounter will be of either Latino origin, African American origin or Asian origin,” Fry said adding that the educational attainment gap has moved. It is not as “nearly as it once was.”

Crispell talked about demographics in MCPS, which has grown more diverse since the 1970s. According to educators, the number of English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) students in county schools has doubled in the past 10 years. The county is now educating children who speak over 127 languages.

The conversation continued with Starr, Pollard, and Edelstein where they talked about teaching for all from elementary school to the college years.

“We got to shake it up and be courageous. … We have to stop thinking about blue collar and white collar jobs because that’s not the economy of today,” Pollard said.

Edelstein said there is a need to engage students with businesses so they get exposure, and added organizations should stop doing things “separately.”

“We need to work together,” Edelstein said.

The last panel featured Brissett, Tijerino and Carr who talked  about need of partnership between nonprofits, private companies, and local government.

Tijerino said that people can expect great things from “our youth” but there should be a push to “empower the youth to lead” under guidance.

The summit was sponsored by Montgomery County, Percontee, Inc., Pepco, Montgomery County Business Roundtable for Education, Office of County Councilmember Cherri Branson, Montgomery County Public Schools and the Montgomery County Education Association.

After panels, attendees broke into group discussions to continue the conversation about eliminating the academic achievement gap, and developing programs for a successful workforce.

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Aline Barros

About Aline Barros

Aline Barros is a multimedia reporter and community engagement specialist with Montgomery Community Media. She can be reached at and on Twitter at @AlineBarros2.


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