Lt. Gov. at State of the Valley: U.S. Education 'Stuck in Old System,' Needs to Train for More Tech Fields

By Bay City News Service:

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom said Friday the United States is not keeping with up with information technology and globalization that are changing the world and higher education in California is failing to prepare students for jobs in technical fields.

"The merger of IT and globalization - more IT, bringing us more globalization, more globalization is bringing us more IT -- is radically changing everything, the way we work, the way we live, changing markets, changing the way we educate, and I would argue, government," Newsom said Friday during his keynote address at the "2014 State of the Valley" conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara.

 But the United States "is stuck in an old system, an old mind set, that has to give way to a new system," Newsom said.

 The annual event, sponsored by non-profit groups Joint Venture Silicon Valley and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, features guest speakers on the status of the technology economy of Silicon Valley, which the two groups define as all of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties, Fremont, Union City and Newark in Alameda County and Scotts Valley in Santa Cruz County.

 Newsom, a former mayor of San Francisco who was elected state lieutenant governor in 2010, criticized the American education system and California's in particular. He said the state system is too concerned with minor issues such as school class sizes and university professor seniority and tenure.

 He said that a recent study found that the top 15-year-old students in mathematics in the United States were performing at the equivalent of 2.5 years behind children that age in Shanghai, China.

 "Average is over," Newsom said. "You can't continue to do what you've done and get what you got. It's not as if we are collapsing. The world is rising. It's the rise of the rest. It's no more dealing with cheap labor, but cheap genius."

 Even quality schools such as the University of California at Berkeley are offering "the same old pedagogy" of teachers lecturing students while "the world is changing," he said.

 "If you were frozen 100 years ago and you came back," he said. "If you could make it to U.C. Berkeley. Oh boy, you'd feel right at home walking into the theater, into that lecture hall. Nothing has changed."
 Newsom said that a senior vice president for the search engine giant Google told him that he could not "care less" about traditional colleges and that "'GPAs are useless. Fourteen percent of the folk on some of our critical teams never went to college.'"

 "Higher education, give me a break," Newsom said. "We're educating people to unemployability."

 Newsom compared university leaders in California to board members of the now-defunct film camera company Kodak, who used to assume the company would do well indefinitely.

"Just like Kodak, right?" Newsom said. "'We're doing fine.' Meanwhile we are educating people who have no real skills that are relevant to the world they're entered into, into this hyper-connected world."

 "Remember those days of high wage, middle skills? That's what bolstered up our middle class. Those days are over," Newsom said. "You know that. I mean a college degree is like a high school degree now. Big damn deal. It's a must, but it's just the beginning."

 Newsom cited as a positive example the San Francisco firm General Assembly, which offers certification classes in specific tech fields such as software engineering and web design for jobs with Silicon Valley tech businesses. Companies with tech field certification programs like General Assembly "are popping up everywhere" and placing more of their students into jobs "because we ain't conveying the talent from San Jose State and all of these other universities," Newsom said.

 "We're not getting people trained in the skills they need," he said. "There is complete disconnect between the business community and higher education."

 "I love the U.C. system. I want it to thrive. But we're playing on the margins. We've got to be more efficient," he said.

Copyright © 2014 by Bay City News, Inc. -- Republication, Rebroadcast or any other Reuse without the express written consent of Bay City News, Inc. is prohibited.
Bob Rosenthal February 09, 2014 at 02:54 PM
Thanks for correcting me KM. The way the developer presented his argument, and the way the ones who were for the project, led me to believe otherwise.
Kirsten Jarvi February 09, 2014 at 05:07 PM
“In order to change an existing paradigm you do not struggle to try and change the problematic model. You create a new model and make the old one obsolete.” ― Richard Buckminster Fuller Actually, I am not reading a strategic plan, a solution, or tactics by Mr. Gavin Newsom here. The last 3 decades this same rhetoric has been discussed in the legislative body of CA, yet nothing has really changed. So my question is, what is the solution. I would rather read articles on solutions rather than the same old same old. This is nothing new, but a PR statement. Looking for some sound action plans and tactics for change. Let's start with 1. Creation of laws in the state of California at maximum should be two pages. 2. The legislative body actually reads the laws they create 3. We put a cap on politicians salaries 4. We allow for only 1 lobbyist per topic rather than the 6 to 1 ratio currently in California. Sorry, not buying this phony baloney. For those who have been paying attention.... We have wasted a TON of money on the "Bullet Train to Nowhere" started Fracking for Oil in the valley. Passed stupidity laws on water, and created empty promises to education while building those cash "job security cash houses for the law profession" called prisons. We have a cash surplus because we are taxing CA more, but we spend $350K on a PR campaign to lobbyists and the legislative body on the bullet train to vote for it. While a 3rd grade teacher on her 40K salary buys school supplies at target. We have spent I believe the number is close to a billion on the bullet train (and it has never been built). Time to drop the plan because quite frankly, project management has been a cash cow. So if you ask me, I think there is a bigger fish to fry closer to Sacramento to how funds have been spent, with little or no accountability. Maybe our Governor and Lt. Governor should start writing articles on solutions, rather than blame. If you want to cut tenure, then I think pension plans should also be a topic to discuss for our legislative body yes. We need more tech jobs, but is Sacramento serious about funding it. Talk is cheap. Put your money where your mouth is. The last three decades the UC system has been underfunded so there could not be the new hires needed to teach the IT classes. Hmmm imagine that...The tenure is peanuts compared to what Sacramento has cost the people of CA the last three decades. Wake up Sacramento, solution oriented articles are a better use of space. If the politicians actually did their homework the Research and Development that comes out of the UC system, pays for itself and then some. What we need is scientists, engineers, and accountants as elected officials who know how to solve problems. Not debaters that the law profession seems to have graduated for the last three decades. You ask any business professional today, their answer is Sacramento is a money pit. I have compassion, because I do not think the law profession has adequately trained in law school on budgeting, accounting, and statistics for quite sometime so how is Sacramento going to balance a budget without the proper skill sets. Secondly, project management is non-existent which is also a costly to the CA people, and laws they are written by lobbyists which is the real scary thing...Looking for people with the skill sets to get the job done.
SunTzu February 11, 2014 at 12:14 AM
Throwing more money into education is not the answer. We have the highest per-student spending some of the worst results. With the highest taxes of any state, we still have to raise money for schools through auctions and fundraisers. What a joke. If we want to fix the schools the state needs to: 1) Stop implementing Common Core 2) Get back to basics of reading, writing and math. Get ride of the hippy dippy social engineering crap. Having the internet in schools does nothing as all engineering and science is based on math. 3) Pass a right to work law so teachers aren't forced to join a union or at least end mandatory political contributions so the State can get out of the clutches 4) End tenure and make teachers' pay merit-based. 5) Require everyone to learn English rather than make everything bi/tri/quad-lingual.
Kirsten Jarvi February 11, 2014 at 10:25 AM
If ten year is ended, make it merit based. Then shouldn't our legislative body also be paid on merit based compensation plan. We have lost some excellent teachers to other fields because each year they were receiving pink slips on whether or not we as Californians could balance our budget. Start math and science education early and young. Vote for people who can do the math and the work. Their is still way too much waste in the state and not good strategic planners and problem solvers. Some how that was missed in law school. Ethics would be helpful too!
Baraiha February 11, 2014 at 01:19 PM
Ummm. California is in the bottom five in state funding for education.


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