Talent is Everything

cSignificant numbers of talented people, not to mention entrepreneurs, in the STEM fields come from international backgrounds. Home countries are trying to entice these men and women to return, while U.S. policy makes it difficult for them to stay here, apply the lessons they have learned and be meaningful economic contributors.

The Kauffman Foundation has more:

The United States stands to lose valuable economic contributors unless it removes immigration barriers to international STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) students who earn advanced degrees here, according to a study released by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation.

International Ph.D. students in the United States on temporary visas accounted for nearly two-fifths (39 percent) of all Ph.D.s in STEM fields in 2013 – a proportion that has doubled over the past three decades. If the trend continues, the majority of STEM Ph.D.s from U.S. universities will go to international students by 2020.

The report, “Will They Stay or Will They Go? International STEM Students Are Up for Grabs,” conducted by Richard Appelbaum and Xueying Han at the University of California, Santa Barbara, shows that nearly two out of five international STEM students are undecided about whether to stay in America or return to their home countries after graduation. More than a third of them are aware of programs designed to lure them back to their countries of origin, at the same time U.S. immigration policy makes it difficult for them to remain here.

The ability to retain international STEM graduates has implications for U.S. entrepreneurship, innovation and economic growth. In 2014, 29 percent of all new U.S. startups were founded by immigrant entrepreneurs, reflecting a startup rate nearly twice as high as that of U.S.-born adults.

“Innovation is one of America’s strongest assets, but other nations are gaining on us,” said Yasuyuki Motoyama, director in Research and Policy at the Kauffman Foundation. “These students represent talented scientists and engineers. If we want to maintain our edge amid intensifying global competition, then our immigration policies must be modified to make it easier for international STEM students to make America their permanent home.”

The Kauffman report draws from 2,322 responses to an email survey of domestic and international graduate students enrolled in STEM programs at the 10 U.S. universities with the largest number of international students. Thirty-four percent of the respondents were international students holding temporary visas.

The report recommends that Congress take action to open the immigration door wider to international STEM students, including:

  • Adopt the Immigration Innovation Act (or the I-Squared Act), which would increase the H-1B visa annual cap from 65,000 to between 115,000 and 195,000, depending on demand and market conditions.
  • Adopt the Stopping Trained in America Ph.D.s from Leaving the Economy Act of 2015 (or the STAPLE Act), which would allow international students who earn STEM Ph.D.s from U.S universities and receive job offers from U.S. employers to be admitted for permanent resident status and exempted from H-1B visa limitations.
  • Amend the H-1B visa system to allow all individuals to switch employers/jobs.

The Kauffman researchers recommended that Congress avoid lumping illegal immigration with legal immigration in one bill, cautioning that “politics should play no role in an issue so critical to the future of U.S. competitiveness.”

And learn more about the Indiana Chamber’s new Technology & Innovation Council. Want to participate? Contact Mark Lawrance at mlawrance(at)indianachamber.com.

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Early Childhood Education Gets a Push in the Right Direction

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Great news: It seems like 2017 will be the year that everyone finally jumps on the train to expand the pre-K pilot program in Indiana. In just the past two weeks, we have had two major announcements from Governor Mike Pence and Superintendent Glenda Ritz on different proposals to expand the pre-K pilot program.

As background, in 2014 Pence testified in front of the Senate Education and Career Development Committee to pursue Indiana’s first pre-kindergarten program for disadvantaged four-year-olds. That session generated legislation to create a five-county pilot program (selected counties were Lake, Marion, Jackson, Vanderburgh and Allen) for 2,300 grants of up to $6,600 for low-income four-year-old students. This voluntary, voucher-based program could place students in public schools, private schools, licensed child care centers, licensed homes or registered ministries – as long as they were a Level 3 or Level 4 on Paths to Quality, which is Indiana’s child care quality rating and improvement system.

This pilot program was awarded $10 million that year and was given an additional $10 million the subsequent year. The response was overwhelming – over 500 low-income applicants in Marion County alone were turned away. In Valparaiso, 600 applications were submitted for only 285 spots. It is important to note that 41 other states have publicly funded preschool programs. Indiana is unique as businesses around the state have stepped up to the plate and have invested heavily to push to expand the pilot program. The business community realizes that having a quality start to school will ultimately lead to a stronger workforce and better communities.

The day of the Indiana Chamber’s spring board of directors meeting earlier this month, Governor Pence announced that he had sent a letter to Secretary Sylvia Burwell of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) expressing interest in expanding pre-K education for disadvantaged children. HHS oversees preschool development grants authorized under the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). He has also stated publicly his desire to request additional state dollars in the next budget. It should be noted that Pence had the opportunity to apply for $80 million in federal grant dollars in 2014 and decided not to pursue the application at the very last minute, citing concerns regarding federal intrusion. The Governor now states that the pilot is producing great results and the time is right for expansion.

Similarly, Ritz announced a proposed expansion of pre-kindergarten programs in announcing her Imagine 2020 legislative plan the following week. Ritz’s pre-kindergarten announcement included high-quality, state-funded, universal access to pre-K to the tune of $150 million per year. With this price tag, Ritz stated that if the political will is there, the funds will follow. Her plan utilizes reversions from state agencies already made to the general fund and leveraging federal dollars.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate John Gregg joined Ritz this week to discuss more details about the pre-K plan. It was explained that the $150 million per year would be available for 289 public school districts with pre-K programs. The program would be voluntary for students, but would be open to all Hoosier four-year-olds, regardless of family income.

While we are thrilled that leaders of both parties are supporting expansion of pre-K programs in Indiana, per usual, the devil is in the details. Expansion can take shape in many forms: universal coverage for all four-year-olds regardless of income levels, increasing the number of counties in the pilot, expanding access to three-year-olds or changing the poverty-level income requirement. These details all are yet to be determined in each proposed plan.

The Indiana Chamber has partnered with many stakeholders to promote expansion of the pre-K pilot and has been meeting frequently to determine our approach to the 2017 legislative session, our messaging and to work collaboratively with community partners and Chamber members to promote a well-funded, high-quality expansion. We will be relying on employers across the state to help us beat the drum about the importance of a great early start to school, which will help lead to lifelong success.

Teacher Legislation Plus ISTEP Panel Update

Indiana educators are among the best and the brightest, and have the utmost important job of teaching our future Hoosier workforce. Last week was Teacher Appreciation Week across the United States. The Indiana Chamber was proud to support many pieces of legislation to help raise up the teaching profession. Many bills sought to provide ways to ease the teaching shortage issue, provide supplemental funding to educators and provide opportunities for teachers to grow in their profession. We look forward to more opportunities during the 2017 session.

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House Enrolled Act 1395 not only sunsets the high-stakes ISTEP exam, but it also creates a 23-person panel which will review and recommend an alternative based on the new federal regulations set forth by the Every Student Succeeds Act. The Indiana Chamber worked tirelessly to ensure that the business community had a seat at the table and we are pleased that Indiana Chamber board member and former board chair, Marilyn Moran-Townsend, was recently appointed by Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne). Moran-Townsend serves on the Chamber’s Business Higher Education Forum policy committee and has an incredible background in education, including as former chair of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and a founding member of the Indiana Education Roundtable. Other appointees include:

  • Nicole Fama – principal of Indianapolis Public School #93; Fama will be chair of the board
  • Dr. Jim Roberts – Batesville Community School Corp. superintendent
  • Chuck Weisenbach – principal of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis
  • Brent Freeman – special education officer for Indianapolis Public Schools
  • Dr. Michelle McKeown – part-time assistant professor of education studies at DePauw University
  • Ayana Wilson-Coles – third grade teacher at Eagle Creek Elementary School in Indianapolis
  • Julie Kemp – principal at Chrisney Elementary School in the North Spencer County School Corp.
  • Wendy Robinson – superintendent of Fort Wayne Community Schools
  • Callie Marksbary – Indiana State Teachers Association
  • Melissa Scherle – Indianapolis Public Schools second grade teacher
  • Edward Rangel – assistant principal at Tindley Genesis in Indianapolis
  • Dr. Scot Croner – Blackford County Schools superintendent
  • Dr. Lynne Stallings – Ball State University professor
  • Jean Russell – literacy specialist at Haverhill Elementary in Southwest Allen County Schools, 2016 Indiana Teacher of the Year
  • Steve Baker – Bluffton High School principal
  • Dr. Kenneth Folks – East Allen County Schools superintendent

Also on the panel: Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz, Department of Workforce Development Commissioner Steve Braun, Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers, Senate Education and Career Development Committee Chairman Dennis Kruse (R-Auburn), House Education Committee Chairman Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) and State Board of Education member Byron Ernest.

The panel will submit recommendations to the Governor and General Assembly no later than December 1, 2016.

Focusing in on Student Engagement and Hope

tCareer readiness preparation begins long before a student makes it to college and begins pursuing internships to explore strengths and interests. It even begins before high school, when students are making postsecondary decisions.

Career readiness largely hinges on success students experience when they are much younger – even back to fifth grade!

The Gallup Student Poll (Fall 2015) measures four dimensions of student success – engagement, hope, entrepreneurial aspiration and career/financial literacy – and analyzes how those impact student behavior. The poll is administered to U.S. students, grades 5 – 12.

For example, students who are “engaged” and “hopeful” are 4.6 times more likely to say they do well in school than “actively disengaged” and “discouraged” students.

The aim of the Gallup Student Poll is to enable superintendents, principals and educators to take direct action based on the results to provide a more robust educational experience. This early action is critical in preparing students for college and the workforce.

One of the most interesting pieces of data from the poll relates to entrepreneurial aspirations. A staggering 42% of respondents indicate they plan to start their own business. However, these aspirations dwindle as students get older, especially for females, indicating that entrepreneurial aspirations should be identified and supported in middle school.

Of the respondents, 50% were “engaged,” 29% were not engaged and 21% were actively disengaged, meaning they are totally disconnected from the learning environment.

The data finds that engagement is different across the age groups. As you go up by grade, engagement goes down. For example, 75% of fifth graders are engaged at school, while 33% of 10th graders are engaged at school.

This suggests students are not getting the needed mentorship as they go through school and are not receiving praise and recognition.

  • 48% of students are hopeful
  • 34% of students are stuck
  • 18% of students are discouraged

When students know what they do best and have opportunities to develop their strengths, they are more motivated and enthusiastic about learning and are more likely to be engaged at school. High engagement in primary and secondary school, especially a focus on “hope” (defined as ideas and energy students have for the future), can only improve postsecondary and career outcomes.

The 2016 Legislative Session: Some Noteworthy Shots Made

Silhouette of Teen Boy Shooting a Basketball at Sunset, copy space

With the NCAA basketball tournament in full swing and baseball season just around the corner, slam dunks and grand slams are both center stage. Neither of those terms, however, can be used to describe the 2016 Indiana General Assembly session. We’ll have to settle for a solid jump shot or maybe a line drive double in the gap.

The number one priority for the Indiana Chamber and its business members was enhanced funding for roads and transportation infrastructure. A total of $1.1 billion, when counting money for local governments, is a strong start. What’s even more important is the commitment legislators made to address longer-term needs in the 2017 budget-writing session.

All four legislative caucuses and the governor’s office offered plans and spent considerable time working toward solutions. That is an excellent sign of even better things to come. In the education arena, the disastrous ISTEP test implementation in recent years led to several needed pieces of legislation. Teachers and schools will not be negatively impacted by the 2014-2015 test results, but all-important accountability remains in place and a summer panel – with the Indiana Chamber at the table – will determine a more suitable testing future for our state’s students.

Other positive legislative results included funding the third Regional Cities program, scholarships for prospective top-of-their-class teachers, a long-sought solution to the unregulated lawsuit lending industry and saving hundreds of millions of dollars with more appropriate property tax assessments of large retail facilities (aka “big box” stores).
Unfortunately, there were also two significant missed opportunities. Indiana must be seen as a welcoming place for all in order to retain and recruit top talent, new business investment and tourism. Failing to pass civil rights legislation doesn’t put Indiana in the strong position it could have been, or arguably needs to be. While this proved a bridge too
far for legislators to cross in this election year, all of our state leaders must find a way going forward to work together to craft a solution.

Despite bipartisan support, implementing a work share program barely even got out of the starting gate. Work share would benefit employees, employers and communities when the next economic downturn occurs. At the request of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the Indiana Chamber partnered with them to commission an independent study of why a work share program is needed. The Chamber also took the extra step of identifying viable funding options for the program’s administration. However, DWD still was unable to get on board. Until they do, this policy will, unfortunately, face an uphill climb.

If these last two items had been added to the plus column, we might just be talking slam dunks and grand slams. Still, there will be another game in town next year, and the Chamber will be back at it – pushing these policies and others that support making Indiana a more prosperous place for employers and their employees.

Read further analysis from Brinegar on several of these issues in this summary

Internship Gets IUPUI Senior International Experience in Dentistry

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Nicole Quint is a senior at IUPUI studying chemistry. She plans to apply to dental school this summer. This post originally appeared on the Indiana INTERNnet blog.

quint pic tallIndiana INTERNnet: How did your mission trip to Panama solidify your interest in becoming a dentist?

Nicole Quint: When I went to Panama last August, I was able to see how challenging and rewarding the profession of dentistry can be. Not only did I recognize the joy in the eyes of community members after they had their painful teeth removed, but I was able to see the strong impact a dentist has on the community. People may think that dentistry is a silly profession, but when you have witnessed a person that is completely malnourished because their teeth are giving them so much pain they are unable to eat, it is thought otherwise. I have seen the good, bad and ugly side of dentistry, and I still can’t wait to enter dental school and become a strong leader in the community.

IIN: What has your research focused on in the IUPUI Life-Health Sciences Internship?

NQ: My research consisted of analyzing oral bacterial that are known to create cavities called Streptococcus mutans. I treated the bacteria with various dilutions of nicotine and then analyzed the results. The hypothesis of my research was: those who smoke increase their chance of containing a higher amount of oral bacteria, causing an increase in the amount of cavities and leaving the patient with a higher chance of the serious heart disease known as atherosclerosis. All because oral bacteria have the opportunity to thrive in nicotine, then make their way into the blood system, and bind to the walls of arteries potentially reducing blood flow to the heart. Overall my research has taught me that it is just as important to have good oral hygiene as it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

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IIN: You frequently presented your work, even at IUPUI Research Day and at the annual meeting of the Indiana Branch of the American Society for Microbiology. How were those experiences?

NQ: While presenting my research at both events, I had multiple people come up to me who were interested in my research. I was able to share with them the importance of good oral hygiene. It was my first time ever presenting my research when I attended the Indiana Branch of the American Society for Microbiology annual research conference, so I was quite nervous. However, I was able to prove to myself that I was confident in my work by proudly presenting my research again at the IUPUI Research Day.

IIN: You’ve completed more than 100 hours of community service during your undergrad at IUPUI. Why is community service so important to you?

NQ: One of the main reasons I like to donate my time is because it has such a strong value to the community. I also find joy in seeing what an impact I have made around the community. For example, when I volunteered with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, I spent five hours one day cleaning up the streets. I had a lady come up that thanked me because she no longer had to worry about her children cutting their hands on broken glass that was in the streets. It’s small moments like that one that encourage me to continue to volunteer.

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Bill to Boost Teacher Pay Dies

96631972Due to significant misinformation from the teacher’s unions and lack of support in the Senate and Governor’s office, Chamber-supported SB 10 died in the House Thursday when it was not called for a vote.

Senate Bill 10 would have allowed school corporations to provide supplemental funding in excess of a teacher’s salary; this would have been extremely helpful in filling high-need positions.

The Indiana Chamber has always supported paying good teachers more. Being able to give administrators the flexibility to provide additional funding on top of salaries is an important step toward recruiting teachers in areas such as STEM subjects and special education. We believe this flexibility would have helped add another incentive to assist with Indiana’s teacher shortage.

The Senate killed a similar provision in HB 1004 last week and Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R-Fort Wayne) publicly asked House Speaker Brian Bosma (R-Indianapolis) to follow suit. The Governor’s office also had tepid support for the bill. In the end, due to the significant concern that the bill might not be signed by the Governor, Bosma decided not to put his caucus through a difficult vote.

We are very disappointed that a pro-teacher, pro-superintendent flexibility bill was not able to pass the Legislature this session, but still thank Speaker Bosma for his overall assistance on HB 1004 and SB 10.

Mitch Daniels on the Future of Undergrad Education

Purdue University President Mitch Daniels doesn’t shy away from the challenges facing higher education. He embraces the opportunities and shares his insights in this one-on-one interview. Read our full interview in the latest edition of BizVoice (and the story includes a QR code link to more video of the Daniels interview). 

Chamber-Supported Teacher Benefit Bill Offers More Options for Teachers

96631972HB 1004 was heard in Senate Pensions and Labor Committee on Wednesday; it was amended and then passed 7-4 and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

The bill establishes the teacher’s defined contribution plan as an account within the Indiana state teachers’ retirement fund and specifies rules and regulations regarding the fund. It also provides that a school corporation may hire an individual to teach if the individual: (1) has a bachelor’s degree with at least a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in a content area related to the area in which the individual intends to teach; (2) has passed content area licensure assessments required by the Department of Education to teach in the area in which the applicant intends to teach; and (3) has a valid teaching license in another state; provides that the individual is considered a certificated employee; provides that a school corporation may provide a supplemental payment in excess of the salary specified in the school corporation’s compensation plan to a teacher who is, or will be, employed in a position that is difficult to fill by the school corporation; and incorporates some recommendations from the Blue Ribbon Commission regarding solutions to a teacher shortage.

An amendment was adopted to include some recommendations from the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Blue Ribbon Commission. Another amendment was defeated that would require the supplemental pay provision to be subject to collective bargaining

The Chamber is in favor of giving teachers a choice when it comes to their benefit plans and therefore supports the idea of having the option of a defined contribution plan for teachers. We believe that providing teachers with more options and choices in retirement benefits will be a strong incentive and a perk of entering the profession. It will also leave them with more options if, down the road, they choose to move to a different school district or leave the profession.

We also believe that allowing reciprocity of teaching licenses from out of state will provide an opportunity to address any potential teacher shortage issues in Indiana. It’s another motivation for teachers to relocate here.

Lastly, the Chamber strongly supports the language in the bill that would allow for school corporations to provide additional salary flexibility for high-need positions. The Indiana Chamber has always supported rewarding good teachers for the important job they do. Giving administrators the ability to offer additional payment beyond the standard salary is an important step toward recruiting the teachers we need.

All three provisions in this legislation help elevate the teaching profession and assist with potential teacher shortage issues.

Indiana Chamber Outlines Priorities for School Testing Reform

19173605In testimony this week, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce began outlining its priorities for school testing reform. Caryl Auslander, the Indiana Chamber’s vice president of education and workforce development policy, expands on some of her remarks:

Pause school accountability for one year only:

“The Indiana Chamber fully supports a one-year pause in school accountability due to the many missteps in the latest ISTEP testing cycle. Teachers should still be subject to the important classroom and other evaluations that take place, but not have test scores used for that purpose for this one year.

“With a new test administrator in place going forward, our hope is that the Indiana Department of Education (DOE) will work very closely with them to ensure that the test is administered accurately and that scores are finalized and reported in an appropriate timeframe (i.e., by the end of August). Many of the ISTEP issues can be traced to past vendor-DOE relations; those need to improve and DOE needs to take a more aggressive role in ensuring deadlines and expectations are met.

“We urge legislators to resist any efforts to lessen our overall accountability process. Accountability measures for schools, teachers and students are critical. They allow us to accurately predict student progress, rate teacher effectiveness and compare and contrast school performance relative to state and national peers. We have to be able to grade ourselves.”

Rescore of current data necessary:

“If we are pausing accountability for the schools, it is important to keep the unadjusted scores/data as a baseline for growth measurement next year. That means it’s essential for the scores to be correct and trusted. And the only way that can be accomplished is through a rescore of the exams by an independent third party.”

Rebrand test; no need to start process over:

“We have new, more rigorous academic standards and the new assessment exam to go along with them. There is no need to spend more of the state’s money to change the assessment. The length of this test or any test is something DOE can and should address with the new test vendor.

“The new test was labeled ISTEP out of a sense of continuity. Let’s rebrand the test to reflect that it is indeed new and simply work to ensure future tests are executed properly and timely. That’s all that needs to happen.”