Also - Books in Volusia schools? Yes please

Want to attract some of the most promising aerospace and aviation employers in the country? Point them toward a pipeline of young engineers, pilots, scientists and industry-directed finance, marketing and “human factors” specialists, freshly educated and eager to get to work. 

For Daytona Beach and the greater Volusia-Flagler county area, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is growing its student body to meet that need — over the next few years, they’ll be going from a pipeline to a fire hose. Next year will be the biggest freshman class and student body (projected to be around 7,000 students) in the Daytona Beach campus’s history, spokeswoman Ginger Pinholster says. 

Earlier this week, The News-Journal’s Mark Harper reported that ERAU would be educating so many new pilots in Daytona Beach that it’s going to be a struggle to get them all the flight time they need. That’s a positive, because nationwide, pilots are retiring at record rates and there should be plenty of jobs for those carrying degrees from the school that many call  “the Harvard of the skies.” 

[READ MORE: Pilot jobs, pay induce ERAU enrollment explosion]

But that’s just part of the story. ERAU offers a first-of-its-kind bachelor's degree in the science of unmanned flight — aka drones, a technology that could become as ubiqutous as cell phones in the coming decades. It also plans to focus programs in aviation data science and business analytics, and add two more masters-level programs at the Daytona campus in the fall. It’s been acquiring millions of dollars’ worth of cutting-edge technology. And when ERAU’s President Barry Butler delivers his state-of-the-university address today, he’s likely to talk about more goals and programs to come. 

Embry-Riddle’s presence in Daytona Beach has always been a key part of of this community’s curb appeal in attracting new employers. This aggressive growth in the university’s enrollment is perfectly timed to meet the intensified effort to attract more space- and aviation-related business to Daytona Beach — an effort that’s already starting to show results. The combination could be the catalyst that helps send a revived sector of this area’s economy soaring.

Volusia goes by the books

 

Volusia County elementary school students returned to class this week to be handed something new in math and reading classes — textbooks! This is a welcome development.

Since the 2014-2015 school year, when the state revised many of its academic standards, Volusia County schools replaced math and reading textbooks with “modules” — aggregated on-line resources that teachers would patch together. Students might get worksheets, look at PowerPoint presentations on screens, or get booklets assembled by teachers.

[READ MORE: Volusia County students, teachers excited to start year with new textbooks for 1st time in years]

Teachers generally hated the system and said so publicly and often. It forced them to scramble to assemble the right materials to patch together in preparation for the next lesson plan. Students and parents were confused by it.

With the new textbooks, teachers will spend less time reinventing lesson plans while students will have in their hands a ready source for answering their questions. Parents will have access to a resource to guide them when helping at home. It’s amazing the uses books have. Even in a digital age.

Volusia County’s schools have suffered from mediocre ratings in the last round of school grades. Almost half of the traditional elementary schools were rated C, 47%. And four schools were D-rated. And this was a slight improvement from the year before. Clearly, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

New textbooks alone won’t turn this around. But they will probably help. And the fact that the school system invested in them is a strong sign that it is serious about improving educational quality.