The 2018 Legislature began with a national speaker who lectured about the future of education in the United States.
Idaho Business for Education’s sixth annual Legislative Academy started at 8 a.m. Monday, the first day of the session. Idaho business leaders, educators and lawmakers packed the Lincoln Auditorium to hear a speech on education reform, especially as it relates to technology.
Featured speaker Gregory Washington spoke about the importance of “disrupting the educational paradigm.”
“We’re not moving fast enough in education,” he said. “Our pace in education has to change.”
Washington is the dean of the school of engineering at the University of California, Irvine. He holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in mechanical engineering from North Carolina State University.
Boise business executive and IBE president Bob Lokken introduced Washington, who promoted technology and innovation during his 60-minute speech.
“Technology is changing the playing field for everyone,” Washington said. “WiFi was a misspelled word 10 years ago.”
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Washington pointed out that more than half of today’s in-demand jobs didn’t exist 10 years ago. The iPhone also didn’t exist 10 years ago, he said. Job growth is outperforming the production of a skilled work force and in five years, 47 percent of today’s jobs will not exist.
“Efficiency will lead to fewer jobs but they will be higher-paying,” he said. “We’re not keeping pace with our students.”
He encouraged industry to partner with education or the state will perish.
“I don’t know what my students need to know,” he said. “I need industry to tell me what skills they need in their work force.”
Education should be creating new inventors and giving kids access to technology, he said.
State Board of Education President Linda Clark, State Board member Andy Scoggin and several dozen lawmakers were in the crowd. State superintendent candidate and Wilder Superintendent Jeff Dillon attended but incumbent Superintendent of Public Instruction Sherri Ybarra did not.