AI Is Changing the Workforce. At This District, It’s Changing the Curriculum Too.

By Bridget McCrea 

Over the last few years, artificial intelligence (AI) has been delivering competitive advantage to businesses across a wide spectrum of industries. By Deloitte’s most recent count, 37 percent of organizations have deployed AI solutions (up 270 percent from 2016) and a majority predict it will “substantially transform” their companies by 2023.

The shift may also mean transforming their workforce.

“As AI drives these transformations, it is changing how work gets done in organizations by making operations more efficient, supporting better decision-making, and freeing up workers from certain tasks,” Deloitte reports. “The nature of job roles and the skills that are most needed are evolving.”

AI Is Changing the Workforce. At This District, It’s Changing the Curriculum Too.

These realities put new pressures on schools to begin initiating students on AI early. And while colleges can sometimes spin up new courses and degrees to meet these evolving needs, school districts can’t always make those types of quick pivots. Anaheim Union High School District wants to buck that trend.

As part of its guiding principles, the district laid out a commitment to preparing students for the future workforce. One element of its Career Preparedness Systems Framework includes embedding career pathways that provide “intensive learning experiences and internships” in cutting-edge careers like AI, biotechnology and cybersecurity.

Project 1619

1619 is not a year that most Americans know as a notable date in our country’s history. Those who do are at most a tiny fraction of those who can tell you that 1776 is the year of our nation’s birth. What if, however, we were to tell you that the moment that the country’s defining contradictions first came into the world was in late August of 1619? That was when a ship arrived at Point Comfort in the British colony of Virginia, bearing a cargo of 20 to 30 enslaved Africans. Their arrival inaugurated a barbaric system of chattel slavery that would last for the next 250 years. This is sometimes referred to as the country’s original sin, but it is more than that: It is the country’s very origin.

Out of slavery — and the anti-black racism it required — grew nearly everything that has truly made America exceptional: its economic might, its industrial power, its electoral system, its diet and popular music, the inequities of its public health and education, its astonishing penchant for violence, its income inequality, the example it sets for the world as a land of freedom and equality, its slang, its legal system and the endemic racial fears and hatreds that continue to plague it to this day. The seeds of all that were planted long before our official birth date, in 1776, when the men known as our founders formally declared independence from Britain.

The goal of The 1619 Project is to reframe American history by considering what it would mean to regard 1619 as our nation’s birth year. Doing so requires us to place the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are as a country.