Opinion: Data Will Define 'Cradle to Career' Educational Success

by California Competes

Topics: Data Systems, State Coordination

Dr. Lande Ajose, Executive Director, California Competes and Ted Lempert, President and CEO, Children Now

This op-ed was published in The Mercury News on December 21, 2018.

‘Cradle to Career’ was a frequent refrain of Governor-elect Gavin Newsom along the campaign trail and for the right reasons. Californians do best when investment in their education comes at the very start and continues through college into adulthood. But California lags far behind other states in tracking those positive outcomes in a meaningful or consistent way.

Just like laying the foundation for a strong home, mountains of research show early learning serves as a foundation for a child’s successful trajectory through school and into the workforce. Understanding how best to build on that foundation will require an overhaul of our fragmented state data systems. Experts on both ends of the learning continuum know solid, sharable information to assess the student experience before kindergarten and after high school in our state is spotty at best.

Newsom’s early learning and higher education platforms come at a vulnerable time for the future of California, as we prepare for the next generation’s workforce to shrink. In 1970, children made up 33 percent of California’s population; by 2030 that figure is expected to decline to just 21 percent, according to a report by Children Now. Coupled with a projected shift in the ratio of seniors to working-age adults, too few individuals will be prepared to fill the shoes of their predecessors in the workforce. In fact, California Competes has found the state will be short more than two million workers with a postsecondary credential by 2025. Sadly, many Californians won’t qualify for the great jobs our state produces.

Continue reading.