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What We're Reading | July 31, 2014

July 31, 2014 3 minute Read by Brittney Bain

The story of North America increasingly will involve the development of the skills and talents of the young people of the United States, Mexico and Canada. Human capital always has been essential to nations that want to progress, but it will be even more so given the realities of the modern economy.

Employees who can solve problems, think innovatively and work collaboratively will have a greater shot at snagging jobs that pay decent wages and offer the chance for economic and social mobility.

Two recent Bush Institute pieces touch on this important point, which ties into the Institute’s focus on growing the economies of North America. In this Huffington Post essay, Margaret Spellings, president of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, takes a look at two realities challenging U.S. schools: the increasing economic need for academic rigor and the growing diversification of U.S. schools.

Spellings, former U.S. secretary of education, explains that economists are clear that strong cognitive skills will remain in great demand, especially as computers replace jobs that follow exact routines.

She also writes that Hispanic students now make up about one-fourth of the nation’s student body. In states like California and Texas, well more than half of public school students come from minority families, often where English is not the native language.

Spellings raises this worry: “We really haven’t made up our collective mind that students from disadvantaged and minority families can be – and should be – educated to the highest levels. Of course, many say they want that. But recent policies suggest we aren’t serious enough about education being central to the forward march of civil rights.”

In this Dallas Morning News essay,  Bill McKenzie tells the story of a young Latina, Jannet Barrera,  who is making it. A former Dallas Sunset High School student body president, Barrera now is her junior year at Texas A&M University.

McKenzie, the Bush Institute’s editorial director, explains how her story of assimilation has not been easy. Yet she is progressing, in part because of her own determination and in part because of programs A&M offers to help students from first-generation families succeed in college. (The University of Texas at Austin offers innovative programs as well, which author Paul Tough reported on in this recent New York Times Magazine piece. )

Finally, here’s a short read that’s also worth checking out: This Economist piece reports on the state of education in Mexico, along with education in Latin American nations.

Each piece points to this reality: The development of human capital will remain critical to the progress of North America.


Author

Brittney Bain
Brittney Bain

Brittney Bain serves as the Director of Communications for the George W. Bush Presidential Center.

Prior to joining the Bush Center, she worked on Capitol Hill where she served most recently as deputy press secretary for the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary.  Bain interned in the White House Office of Communications during the George W. Bush Administration.

She received her bachelor’s degree from Baylor University and her master’s degree from The Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

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