Jobs That will not be replaced by Robots


Ten jobs that are safe from robots

A college degree, problem-solving skills and the ability to adapt to technological change will help land jobs at low risk for automation

by SARAH GONSERSeptember 18, 2018


The Hechinger Report is a national nonprofit newsroom that reports on one topic: education. Sign up for our weekly newsletters to get stories like this delivered directly to your inbox.

This story also appeared in Mind/Shift

Yes, the robots are definitely coming for the jobs of America’s 3.5 million cashiers. Just ask the retail workers who’ve already been displaced by automated checkout machines. Robots may also be coming for radiologists, whose expertise diagnosing diseases through X-rays and MRIs is facing stiff competition from artificial intelligence. And robots are starting to do some of the work in professions as diverse as chefoffice clerk and tractor-trailer operator.

For most of us, though, the robot invasion will simply change the tasks we do, not destroy our jobs altogether. That’s according to researchers who study the impact of automation on jobs. They also note that, as the spread of artificial intelligence automates the rote parts of our jobs, it will not only force us to upgrade our skills but also free us up to take on more sophisticated tasks. Meanwhile, the education system will have to adapt by focusing on giving people the high-level problem-solving and interpersonal skills that robots may never be able to master.

Over the next decade, at least one-third of the tasks in about 60 percent of jobs could be automated, according to research by consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Globally, the firm estimates that up to 30 percent of current work hours will be automated. Less than 5 percent of jobs, McKinsey says, will disappear completely in that period. Here, we take a look at jobs that, to the extent that workforce and automation research can predict the future, will continue to depend largely on uniquely human skills, thus remaining relatively robot-proof.

The most vulnerable jobs are low-skill positions in very structured and predictable settings, such as heavy-machinery operations and fast-food work. Significant parts of white-collar jobs that involve collecting and processing information — paralegal work, accounting and mortgage origination, for example — are also likely to be automated. “The jobs that will go away are the jobs that are routine in nature,” said Joseph B. Fuller, professor of management practice at Harvard Business School. Jobs that don’t require much deviation from a central task, he noted, are the easiest to describe in an algorithm and thus prime candidates for automation.

“If you’re a doctor, you should aim to be an even smarter doctor. If you’re a garbage collector, you should aim to be a smarter garbage collector.”

In contrast, robot-proof jobs tend to involve tasks like decision-making and problem-solving, and require a flexible mindset and a willingness to multitask. They’re also likely to require higher education, according to a Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce analysis conducted for The Hechinger Report. “For the most part, a bachelor’s degree has a higher probability of giving you automation protection,” said Megan Fasules, an assistant professor and research economist at the center who compiled the data. “So even if my job has a degree of automation, a bachelor’s degree might allow me to have the skills to adapt to changes more easily.”

As artificial intelligence enters workplaces, many jobs will become hybrid versions of earlier jobs. Job roles and skills will mix together in new ways — forcing education programs to adapt as well. For example, Harvard’s Fuller cites the growing demand for registered nurses with specialized computer science skills. “I’ve looked all across the U.S., there is no such education program available.”

Related: Teachers want to prepare students for the jobs of the future — but feel stymied

A high school student repairs a car in an automotive shop class. Jobs in automotive body repair are relatively safe from automation, and they don’t require a college degree. Credit: Jackie Mader/The Hechinger Report

Workers in all job levels will need to keep sharpening their skills and continuing to learn, according to Benjamin Pring, co-founder and managing director of The Center for the Future of Work, a research unit funded by Cognizant, a tech services company. “If you’re a doctor, you should aim to be an even smarter doctor. If you’re a garbage collector, you should aim to be a smarter garbage collector.”

He says that a more personalized method of education, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, may do the best job of preparing young people for the future work environment. Whereas traditional, standardized teaching models work for motivated students, they often leave less motivated or struggling students behind, he says. “A more personalized approach, where the performance of each child is improved, will create, in aggregate, smarter people who can thrive in this era in which tools and machines are smarter than ourselves,” said Pring.

“The notion that we can train someone in 2018 for job requirements in 2028 isn’t realistic.”

But there’s only so much educators, and workers, can do now to prepare. “The notion that we can train someone in 2018 for job requirements in 2028 isn’t realistic,” Fuller said. Given the fast pace of change, job training will have to be fluid rather than static, helping people gather the skills to survive as workplaces and needs continuously evolve.

In its analysis for The Hechinger Report, the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce identified 10 robot-proof jobs, in sizable fields that pay a solid middle-class wage. The analysis was based on information from the O*NET Resource Center and the U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, 2016. Job wages and details are from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Best robot-proof jobs requiring a high-school degree but no college

• Automotive body and glass repairs

With a median wage of $40,580, this is among the better jobs that don’t call for education beyond high school — especially now that auto shops are well-ventilated, so that fumes and dust are dispersed. And because this job requires technical knowledge plus problem-solving and customer service skills, it has a low risk of automation.

• Heavy vehicle and mobile equipment service technicians

These mechanics inspect and repair the vehicles and machinery used in such growing fields as construction, farming and rail transportation. Employers will hire workers right out of high school, though postsecondary training is an asset. With a median wage of $49,440 and required (and robot-proof) customer service and problem-solving skills and technical know-how, the real downside to this job is that it’s tough, physical and often dirty work.

Best robot-proof jobs requiring a certification or 2-year degree

• Bus and truck mechanics and diesel engine specialists

Industry certification in diesel engine repair, or other postsecondary preparation, is strongly preferred for this job. This is physically demanding work, often in noisy repair shops, and it pays a middle-class wage of $46,360. Because this job requires the ability to troubleshoot, deal with customers and handle sophisticated technology such as engine diagnostic software, it rates low for automation risk.

• Line installers and workers

Line workers install and repair electrical power systems and telecommunications cables. The job requires a high school diploma, technical certification and on-the-job training, and it can be physically demanding and hazardous. Still, because of the degree of customer interaction, complex problem-solving and critical thinking involved in the job, it is relatively automation-proof and pays $64,190 per year.

Best robot-proof jobs requiring a bachelor’s degree or more

A high school teacher in New York helps a student during class. Due to its highly interpersonal nature, high school teaching ranks very low on the automation-risk scale. Credit: Jackie Mader/The Hechinger Report

• High school teachers

High school teachers need at least a bachelor’s degree and, to work in public schools, a teaching license or certification. The median wage is $59,170 and, with some variation by region, employment in the profession is expected to grow. While there is the big upside of summer and holiday vacations, this advantage is offset by the reality that teachers tend to work evenings and weekends grading papers and preparing lessons. Due to its highly interpersonal nature, high school teaching ranks very low on the automation-risk scale.

• Occupational therapists

Occupational therapists work in settings such as hospitals and schools to help ill, injured or disabled people build the skills needed for everyday life. Demand for the jobs, which pay an average of $83,200, is increasing rapidly: Employment is projected to grow 24 percent in the next decade. This job requires sophisticated reasoning, strong communication skills and high-level problem-solving and decision-making abilities — making it an unpredictable, challenging and thus robot-proof job.

• Special education teachers

Special education teachers work with students with disabilities, from preschool through high school, and earn a median annual wage of $58,980. This job requires a bachelor’s degree and a state certification or license. While some special education teachers receive summers and holidays off, many work year-round. The job’s automation-proof skills include the ability to build strong relationships with students and co-workers, modify curriculum based on students’ needs and assess students’ abilities.

• Aerospace engineers

Investment in redesigning aircraft to be quieter and more fuel efficient is driving job creation for aerospace engineers. With a median annual wage of $113,030, positions require a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering or a related science or engineering field. Workers must possess deep technical knowledge, critical-thinking skills and complex problem-solving abilities, among many other automation-proof skills.

• Nurse practitioners and nurse midwives

Nurse practitioners and nurse midwives need a master’s degree and a state license, at minimum; they must also pass a national certification exam. The average annual wage is $110,930. As Americans age, this job sector is projected to grow a whopping 31 percent in the next decade. Because this job requires a unique and demanding combination of critical-thinking and social skills and adaptability, it ranks low for risk of automation.

• Writers and authors

These jobs — in copy and technical writing, book authorship and other fields — pay a median annual wage of $61,820 and generally require at least a bachelor’s degree. While computer programs are starting to produce simple news articles, the overall threat of a robot penning the next novel you read, or the next advertising jingle you hear, is very low.

This story about robots and jobs was produced by The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, independent news organization focused on inequality and innovation in education. Sign up for the Hechinger newsletter.

Dementia or Dehydration?

Summertime and the catfish are jumping…it is also as hot as heck. My area, USA – Southwest is having record high temperatures. A week ago or so, I was setting up a new account by phone. The young lady asked me for my phone number and I couldn’t remember the correct number. I also kept having dizzy spells, fatigue and leg cramps. I thought I was drinking enough water….maybe not.

After reading several articles on dehydration I realized I needed not just water but Gatorade (electrolytes) and fruit juices. Once I started to swill those as well as water and cut back on coffee, the dizziness went away and my memory ‘improved’. I was really surprised at how quickly it can happen. One thing this article mentions is that you really need to start to ‘hydrate’ (drink water) one day before you engage in heavy physical activity. Wow, who knew? So, my water bottle is in my carrier by my side when I walk or hike with a backup bottle of Gatorade in my car, just ‘in case.’


Dehydration occurs when you use or lose more fluid than you take in, and your body doesn’t have enough water and other fluids to carry out its normal functions. If you don’t replace lost fluids, you will get dehydrated.

Anyone may become dehydrated, but the condition is especially dangerous for young children and older adults.

The most common cause of dehydration in young children is severe diarrhea and vomiting. Older adults naturally have a lower volume of water in their bodies, and may have conditions or take medications that increase the risk of dehydration.

This means that even minor illnesses, such as infections affecting the lungs or bladder, can result in dehydration in older adults.

Dehydration also can occur in any age group if you don’t drink enough water during hot weather — especially if you are exercising vigorously.

You can usually reverse mild to moderate dehydration by drinking more fluids, but severe dehydration needs immediate medical treatment.


Thirst isn’t always a reliable early indicator of the body’s need for water. Many people, particularly older adults, don’t feel thirsty until they’re already dehydrated. That’s why it’s important to increase water intake during hot weather or when you’re ill.

The signs and symptoms of dehydration also may differ by age.

Infant or young child

  • Dry mouth and tongue
  • No tears when crying
  • No wet diapers for three hours
  • Sunken eyes, cheeks
  • Sunken soft spot on top of skull
  • Listlessness or irritability


  • Extreme thirst
  • Less frequent urination
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion

When to see a doctor

Call your family doctor if you or a loved one:

  • Has had diarrhea for 24 hours or more
  • Is irritable or disoriented and much sleepier or less active than usual
  • Can’t keep down fluids
  • Has bloody or black stool


Sometimes dehydration occurs for simple reasons: You don’t drink enough because you’re sick or busy, or because you lack access to safe drinking water when you’re traveling, hiking or camping.

Other dehydration causes include:

  • Diarrhea, vomiting. Severe, acute diarrhea — that is, diarrhea that comes on suddenly and violently — can cause a tremendous loss of water and electrolytes in a short amount of time. If you have vomiting along with diarrhea, you lose even more fluids and minerals.
  • Fever. In general, the higher your fever, the more dehydrated you may become. The problem worsens if you have a fever in addition to diarrhea and vomiting.
  • Excessive sweating. You lose water when you sweat. If you do vigorous activity and don’t replace fluids as you go along, you can become dehydrated. Hot, humid weather increases the amount you sweat and the amount of fluid you lose.
  • Increased urination. This may be due to undiagnosed or uncontrolled diabetes. Certain medications, such as diuretics and some blood pressure medications, also can lead to dehydration, generally because they cause you to urinate more.

Risk factors

Anyone can become dehydrated, but certain people are at greater risk:

  • Infants and children. The most likely group to experience severe diarrhea and vomiting, infants and children are especially vulnerable to dehydration. Having a higher surface area to volume area, they also lose a higher proportion of their fluids from a high fever or burns. Young children often can’t tell you that they’re thirsty, nor can they get a drink for themselves.
  • Older adults. As you age, your body’s fluid reserve becomes smaller, your ability to conserve water is reduced and your thirst sense becomes less acute. These problems are compounded by chronic illnesses such as diabetes and dementia, and by the use of certain medications. Older adults also may have mobility problems that limit their ability to obtain water for themselves.
  • People with chronic illnesses. Having uncontrolled or untreated diabetes puts you at high risk of dehydration. Kidney disease also increases your risk, as do medications that increase urination. Even having a cold or sore throat makes you more susceptible to dehydration because you’re less likely to feel like eating or drinking when you’re sick.
  • People who work or exercise outside. When it’s hot and humid, your risk of dehydration and heat illness increases. That’s because when the air is humid, sweat can’t evaporate and cool you as quickly as it normally does, and this can lead to an increased body temperature and the need for more fluids.


Dehydration can lead to serious complications, including:

  • Heat injury. If you don’t drink enough fluids when you’re exercising vigorously and perspiring heavily, you may end up with a heat injury, ranging in severity from mild heat cramps to heat exhaustion or potentially life-threatening heatstroke.
  • Urinary and kidney problems. Prolonged or repeated bouts of dehydration can cause urinary tract infections, kidney stones and even kidney failure.
  • Seizures. Electrolytes — such as potassium and sodium — help carry electrical signals from cell to cell. If your electrolytes are out of balance, the normal electrical messages can become mixed up, which can lead to involuntary muscle contractions and sometimes to a loss of consciousness.
  • Low blood volume shock (hypovolemic shock). This is one of the most serious, and sometimes life-threatening, complications of dehydration. It occurs when low blood volume causes a drop in blood pressure and a drop in the amount of oxygen in your body.


To prevent dehydration, drink plenty of fluids and eat foods high in water such as fruits and vegetables. Letting thirst be your guide is an adequate daily guideline for most healthy people.

People may need to take in more fluids if they are experiencing conditions such as:

  • Vomiting or diarrhea. If your child is vomiting or has diarrhea, start giving extra water or an oral rehydration solution at the first signs of illness. Don’t wait until dehydration occurs.
  • Strenuous exercise. In general, it’s best to start hydrating the day before strenuous exercise. Producing lots of clear, dilute urine is a good indication that you’re well-hydrated. During the activity, replenish fluids at regular intervals and continue drinking water or other fluids after you’re finished.
  • Hot or cold weather. You need to drink additional water in hot or humid weather to help lower your body temperature and to replace what you lose through sweating. You may also need extra water in cold weather to combat moisture loss from dry air, particularly at higher altitudes
  • Illness. Older adults most commonly become dehydrated during minor illnesses — such as influenza, bronchitis or bladder infections. Make sure to drink extra fluids when you’re not feeling well.

Hunger or Thirst? The brain may confuse the two.

I was out hiking this weekend. It’s a beautiful site and it was a hot, humid day. I was only out for about an hour because I was feeling a bit tired. When I got to my favorite Coyote Pause Cafe, I was ready to eat everything in sight in including the table cloth. Later, I was having some other symptoms like headache and dizziness. What was wrong with me? Plus, I kept having fantasic craving for salt and starch. What up? I think I got dehydrated even though I wasn’t out for long. Here’s a good article about this.

Hunger vs. thirst: tips to tell the difference

Hunger vs. thirst: tips to tell the difference

How often have you heard your stomach growl, felt a little light-headed or had an oncoming headache and immediately reached for a snack? You might be surprised to find that what can feel like a hunger pang is actually thirst. These two sensations ride a fine line, and being able to tell the difference can help you be successful with your daily diet!

When true hunger strikes, many people are guilty of opening the fridge or pantry and immediately looking for ready-to-eat or pre-packaged foods for a quick fix. The next time you get a stomach pang, though, pause and ask yourself if you’re really hungry or could you just be thirsty? Here are some common hunger symptoms to set the basis for your answer:

  • Empty feeling in your stomach
  • Stomach gurgling or rumbling
  • Dizziness, faintness or light-headedness
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Lack of concentration
  • Nausea

The truth is, most people confuse thirst and hunger, often mistaking the former for the latter. Clinical studies have shown that 37% of people mistake hunger for thirst because thirst signals can be weak. This can create added issues for chronic kidney disease patients who are sometimes placed on fluid restrictions to reduce their kidneys’ workload. Always follow these restrictions, but also make sure your body is getting enough fluid, too. Signs of thirst symptoms may include:

  • Dry skin
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Dry-eyes
  • Increased heart rate
  • Headache
    • Nausea
    • Dizziness

    With symptoms that overlap can easily lead to misdiagnosis when it comes to hunger vs. thirst. Pay close attention to these feelings when you have them and think about what you’ve eaten or drank so far for the day. Here are a few helpful reminders to keep your cravings in check:

    • Don’t wait until you’re thirsty to grab a drink. Staying hydrated throughout the day helps curb cravings, keeps you alert, and helps digestion. Make sure you’re reaching your daily fluid allowance. Also be sure to monitor your fluid intake to avoid dehydration and its pesky symptoms, like nausea and headaches.
    • Listen to your body. Don’t be tempted to reach for whatever snack is in sight at the first sign of “hunger.” To figure out if that feeling is hunger or thirst, drink water—within your fluid allowance—and then wait 15 minutes. If you were truly hungry, you might still feel a stomach pang, whereas if you were just thirsty, you’ll feel satisfied.
    • Opt for kidney-friendly foods when hunger strikes. Fiber-rich snacks, which are low in fat and high in antioxidants, are a great option to help chronic kidney patients stay within protein, phosphorus, sodium and potassium guidelines. A few examples include apples, berries, and red and purple-skinned grapes.

    Information or materials posted on this blog are intended for general informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, medical opinion, diagnosis or treatment. Any information posted on this blog is not a substitute for patient specific medical information or dietary advice. Please consult with your healthcare team or dietitian for a more complete dietary plan and recommendations.


Homeschooling the new option for parents during Covid.

Interest in Homeschooling Surges as COVID Restrictions Reshape Public and Private Education for the Fall

CT Examiner



For more than 10 percent of the 57 million school-age children nationwide, fall 2020 may bring another big shift in their education: homeschooling.

According to a Real Clear Opinion Poll on May 14, 15 percent of the 2,122 families surveyed are planning to homeschool their children in the fall. As of fall 2019, just 3 to 4 percent of all students in the United States were homeschooled, according to the Home School Legal Defense Association.

“If this poll holds true that would mean 8.5 million American children would be homeschooled in the fall. It’s hard to believe,” said Mike Donnelly, senior counsel and director of global outreach for the Home School Legal Defense Association. “But, there are a lot of things that schools are talking about in the fall that families are not comfortable with.”

Although the percentage of homeschoolers in Connecticut as of 2017 remains well below the national average, with less than 1 percent of students participating in homeschooling, in the last two months interest has grown substantially according to Pam Lucashu of The Education Association of Christian Homeschoolers.

In the last week alone, Lucashu said, individuals in the Association’s considering homeschooling Facebook group increased by 26 percent. In New London County, several families have expressed interest in transitioning to homeschooling, according to the Thames Valley 4-H Homeschool Co-op.

With public and private schools across the state closed since mid-March due to effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 and with uncertainty about what school will look like in the fall, a transition to homeschooling is an appealing option for families.

“There are several reasons we are considering switching to homeschooling next year,” said Michelle Kurber, a resident and mother in the Branford School District. “Before COVID happened our family started to become concerned with the district’s reliance on technology and lack of play at the younger grade levels. Studies have been showing for years negative effects of prolonged screen time with young children ranging from shorter attention spans all the way to behavioral problems.”

When schools closed this spring, online learning became the default method of education for public and private school students across the state.

Instead of picking up a laptop and an iPad for my kindergartner and second grader where we had to learn a new and frustrating online platform, it would have been more helpful to pick up a packet of worksheets and library books for my kids to read,” Kurber said. “I absolutely believe technology has a place in education but I do not believe it should be relied on in the younger grade levels. If we homeschool next year our family looks forward to choosing a curriculum that better fits our children’s individual learning style and interests. We will also have the ability to have shorter school days and increase field trips around the community to enhance our learning.”

On May 19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidance to school districts about precautions that should be taken if they are to reopen in the fall. The recommendations include students and teachers wearing masks, not sharing supplies, keeping desks six feet apart, social distancing on school buses, requiring one-directional hallways, restricting visitors from the school, staggering arrival and departure times and routine cleaning of surfaces and supplies throughout the day.

Folks are really frustrated with how schooling is going right now and are considering homeschooling as an alternative,” Donnelly said. “With schools saying they will do a lot of things differently in the fall it may push those families who were considering homeschooling to pull the trigger.”

If the COVID-19 pandemic does push more families to choose homeschooling, that doesn’t mean they can’t ever go back, said Sandra Kim, a spokesperson for the Home School Legal Defense Association.

You don’t have to think of homeschool as kindergarten through 12th grade, you can always go back,” Kim said. “For the next year it might make the most sense, after that we shall see.”

Although it may seem like life for homeschool families has not changed much due to COVID-19, the Thames Valley 4-H Homeschool Co-op said it has actually changed drastically. The group along with many other homeschool co-ops, which used to meet weekly for some subjects and activities, has not been able to meet since the pandemic began due to social distancing restrictions.

We still are not sure if the fall will be different for us or not too,” said Brittany Casey, a homeschooling mom and member of the Thames Valley co-op. “We need to know if we will be able to meet, especially if we will be supporting this possible influx.”

Homeschooled children across the country are rarely just learning from home. They take field trips, combine with other children in co-ops, participate in extracurricular activities provided for public school children and are often very involved in their communities, Donnelly said.


K-12 – More babysitting and less teaching KOMONEWS


Parents mull homeschooling as educators conceive learning amid COVID-19 pandemic

by Abby Acone, KOMO News meteorologist/reporter

Tuesday, June 16th 2020

SEATTLE — With the upcoming school year just a few weeks away, several parents say they are considering homeschooling their children because they dislike new guidelines released by the state that will apply to education in the post-coronavirus environment.

Chris Reykdal, the state superintendent, said he expects schools to reopen for in-person education this fall in the wake of new requirements for state schools that have been endorsed by his office and state health officials. Those directives inlcude masks for students and teachers along with social distancing practiced on campuses.

Several parents say those new requirements aren’t realistic for young children.

“To have masks on while you’re trying to learn and be in this environment can already be overwhelming,” said parent Ana Safavi, who is choosing to homeschool her two kids for the upcoming school year.

She said she worries about the social dynamics of physical distancing, and believes it will be difficult for her future first-grader to wear a mask.

“I know that he’s going to have more anxiety about that,” Safavi said. “He’s already a pretty high anxiety child.”

In addition to wearing masks and physical distancing, the new state requirements for schools reopening this fall include:

  • Ensuring that campuses have a thorough sanitizing of classrooms and buses;
  • Encouraging frequent hand washing;
  • Screening students and staff for every day for COVID-19.

While every school across the state must implement these requirements for in-person learning this fall, it’s up to each district to decide what model of education they want to follow. That discretion could mean districts will decide themselves among returning to class full-time, part-time, offering virtual learning or a combination approach of multiple models.

However, OSPI officials said school districts should be prepared to return to remote learning if health reasons dictate.

Tim Robinson, spokesman for Seattle Public Schools, said it is reasonable to expect young students will comply with directives for social distancing and masks.

“I would say yes, because they’re probably getting used to that already at home,” he said. “It’s a different world.”

Robinson says Seattle Public Schools is considering a variety of models for the new school year, some involve staggered schedules for students and a mix of remote and in-person learning.

The district has held multiple meetings over the last two weeks, discussing with students, teachers and parents on how to move forward. Officials with Seattle Public Schools are expected to announce more specifics of their plan on Friday.

“We are going to do everything we can to keep things as safe as possible,” Robinson said.

The Seattle Education Association says this process to make a decision is moving too quickly.

“My concern is that we rush to a decision,” said Jennifer Matter, spokeswoman for the Seattle Education Association. “I really think that it’s a complex issue.”

School staffers say they are waiting for plan details on restarting in-person learning to come soon.

“Our educators need as much time as possible to prepare for what is surely going to be a unique situation,” Robinson said.

Notes on the Digital vs Paper Book Debate

Hi there: Wow! A bunch of articles on the value of print books vs digital. Gee, somebody must have some extra time!!!!

The Digital vs Book debate continues to rage. I teach and many of my students are either ESL, second generation English learners or remedial students. My opinion is that ESL, remedial and young students should all have paper books. Digital only if they want them. Why?

Young children, who are learning to read, love to hold the books in their hands, turn the pages, Pat the Bunny (you parents know that one,) and then, read it again, again and again. That is a very common trait with very young readers; they love it repeated. So, let them!

What about remedial and ESL? Anyone who is struggling with reading, the language and comprehension, needs to stop, regroup and then reread the paragraph, passage, page, etc. They will want to ‘mark it up’ and make notes to themselves in the margins. It is common for this group to have a ‘favorite page’ or a ‘reference page’. This might be an actual reference page with things like verb conjugations, verb tenses, grammar forms, etc. This type of study is virtually impossible with a digital book. In addition, publishers to schools frequently ‘rent’ the book for a specific time and then pull the book back at the end of term. Therefore, the student then has no book for reference later.

Lastly – Money, Money, Money makes the world go round. Didn’t I hear that in a movie? Because I’m a teacher and need stuff (!) I currently have 3 computers at home; two that are mine and one from the school. I have an Ipad, a Smart phone, two Kindles that don’t work and two cell phones that don’t work. My excuse is, well, they don’t work do they?

In March of 2020, our school shut down because of Covid 19 and went completely virtual. Many of our students come from low-income backgrounds. Not surprisingly, many did not have computers, proper Smart phones, Internet, cameras, microphones, etc. Therefore, connect the dots gang, they could barely attend classes and many either failed or opted out with incompletes or withdrawals. You don’t have to have two Phd’s to get the point that yes, many people do not have the money to have all the equipment and gear ‘going digital’ requires. Our school is trying to help them out with loans of computers, great, what if they don’t have Internet at home? How about their embarrassment when they have to admit to teacher/costudents they can’t afford these ‘basic’ items.

So, wouldn’t a paper book be easier, just in case all the power does go out at your house? That’s all fer now, Courtney Webb, MA

copyright Courtney E. Webb 2019 – use by permission only.


Why you can’t read this article – Online textbooks.

The Problem with Online Textbooks and Why You’ll Struggle to Read This

You will probably struggle to read this. And here’s why.According to research done by Naomi S. Baron, a professor of linguistics at the Department of Language and Foreign Studies at American University, only 16% of people read online text word for word. (Ronsenwald, 2015)

That means there is an 84% chance you are skimming this, bouncing from paragraph to paragraph, scanning for something important to jump out at you. You are probably ignoring most of what you read until you find something relevant, something that pops off the page screaming, “HEY, LOOK HERE! I’M IMPORTANT.”

The fact is most people struggle to read and process text online. There are many possible reasons for this. Neuroscientists believe that one of the reasons could be tied to a lack of spatial memory associated with reading something on a screen. When reading print, one can assign a fact or quote to a particular part of a page which is in a particular chapter, which is in a particular part of the book. There is a physical location associated with the information. This gives a person a feel for where they read it which helps the brain retain this particular piece of information. This linkage to spatial memory is not possible with online texts. (Rosenwald, 2015) (But they’re cheaper.)

Our school district, Fairfax County Public Schools, has been on the forefront of adopting online textbooks. However, two years after “upgrading” our textbooks to virtual copies, the consensus is in. Everyone hates them. Ask any teacher, student, or parent what they think of their brand new state-of-the-art textbook and you will undoubtedly get an overwhelmingly negative response.  (But they are cheaper.)

And it’s not just students at our high school who have a visceral reaction to online texts. In her study, Baron found that almost 90% of college book sales are print versions. This is despite the fact that most of these “digital natives” were given the option of purchasing an online version of the same text. In one study in which college students were given a free online textbook, 25% of the participants went out and voluntarily purchased a paper version. (Rosenwald, 2015).

The problems with our online books are many. The server our book is held on frequently goes down during critical parts of the school year. At the beginning of this year, after two weeks of going in and out, the publisher finally had to take the book offline for the first month of school to “update their server”. Students learned the first week of school that if they wanted to get out of doing a homework assignment, all they had to say was, “the book didn’t work.” The most frustrating point from a teacher’s perspective is that too frequently the student isn’t making this up.

The publishers told us that unlike an old-fashioned textbook, the new one would always have up-to-date information. While they were telling us this, I clicked on the “Secretary of State” icon in the government textbook and up popped a biography of the “current Secretary of State, Colin Powell”. Colin Powell hadn’t been Secretary of State for 10 years.

However, poor functionality is not why students don’t like the online textbooks. Believe it or not they dislike them because they struggle to learn from them. Let’s go back to the value created by the spatial memory associated with paper versions of text. A

Another key reason why students struggle with online text is that they offer way too many distractions. As we will discuss in a later post, adolescents tend to make more impulsive decisions rather than decisions based on logic. (Packard, 2007) If you give a student the choice between doing something mindless that brings them immediate gratification (talking with a friend on social media, scrolling through pictures of their friends’ dinners on Instagram, or playing a game) versus something mentally more rigorous that will benefit them in the long run (reading their textbook), for them, it’s a proverbial no-brainer. They will do the mindless activity a majority of the time.

(Reading is) an activity which requires laser like focus (reading), for a group of people drawn to serial interruptions (adolescents), and you are putting this activity in the lion’s den of distraction (their electronic device). Baron’s research showed that 90% of students “multitasked” (a fallacy we will address at a later post) while on electronic based texts. Only 1% of students multitasked while reading a print version. (Rosenwald, 2015)

The online Washington Post article I pulled this statistic from is a demonstration of why this is- “Why Digital Natives Prefer Reading in Print” . T

Regarding sleep, studies have shown that the unnatural light generated by electronic screens actually can disrupt one’s sleep cycle.  It has been shown that people who use technology at night before bed (the time in which most students are getting around to their homework) consequently have a more difficult time falling asleep, and staying asleep.  (Herkewitz, 2013)

So to recap, students who use online textbooks: have difficulty reading them, difficulty retaining the information in them, take longer to complete the assignments in them, and more than likely will have problems sleeping as a result of using them. So why are school systems starting to push them on their students? When we asked a member of the superintendent’s office why, in the face of all this evidence, does our county still insist on using them, she replied, “because students need to learn how to use technology to better prepare them for the real world.” (And digital books are cheaper.)

The reality is school systems like Fairfax are adopting online textbooks and publishers are pushing them for one simple reason, they’re cheaper. Publishers don’t have to print or distribute them and schools don’t have to replace them when they get lost. As one of the publishers who rejected our manuscript told us, “the marketing for a book bashing technology would be tricky because print media is dying ….”

If you’re still reading this, congratulations, you’ve beaten the odds.


  • Flatow, Ira. “The Myth Of Multitasking.” NPR. NPR, 10 May 2013. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.
  • Herkewitz, William. “Are Your Gadgets Making You a Night Owl?” Popular Mechanics. N.p., 1 Aug. 2013. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.
  • Packard, Erika. “That Teenage Feeling.” Monitor on Psychology4th ser. 38 (2007): 20. American Psychological Association. Apr. 2007. Web. 6 Mar. 2015.
  • Rosenwald, Michael S. “Why Digital Natives Prefer Reading in Print. Yes, You Read That Right.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 22 Feb. 2015. Web. 06 Mar. 2015.

Last little note: digital books are ‘sweeping’ into classrooms across the nation at every level. Eventually, when the academic scores are published and educators (and parents) ‘notice’ the downward trend there will be another trend. Private schools, exclusive schools, the most pricey schools will start to advertise ‘we use original materials’ (paper) and authentic sources (books written by a specific author.) They will roll their eyes and sniff when digital books are mentioned.Once again, the guys at the top will find a way to succeed, the guys at the bottom will flounder and the publishers will take the profits to the bank. cew

AZ POST – Peace Officers Standards and Training Board – an example

I have reported that the State of Arizona makes very public the records on practicing teachers and whether or not there have been disciplinary actions against them. Public records also exist for doctors, nurses, attorneys, CPAs and others, no doubt.

There may not be the exact same system in place for AZ police officers, but the important point is whether or not there is oversight in place for the state police force and does it have ‘bite’ or not. Are they effective in policing their own numbers? Here is a listing of the board members on AZ POST which is the governing board for the state police force. Lastly is a recent article form the Phoenix New Times about the results of these efforts.

For my money, it looks like they are doing a good job. Would love to hear from other states about how these oversight boards either are or are not working for you.




Board Chairman





Chief Alan Rodbell



Director David Shinn



















Jail Commander Don Bischoff




AZPOST : Peace Officer Standards and Training Board

28 Arizona Cops Got
Banned From Law
Enforcement Last Year

MEG O’CONNOR | JANUARY 23, 2020 | 6:30AM Phoenix New Times

A Mesa cop arrested and charged for sexual conduct with a minor. A Lake Havasu City officer who repeatedly accessed his department’s bodycam videos and allowed his girlfriend to watch them. A supervisor who, as evidence custodian of the Somerton Police Department, repeatedly mishandled evidence, failed to send it for testing, or failed to preserve evidence in criminal investigations.

These are some of the things that got 28 Arizona cops banned from working in law enforcement in this state last year, Phoenix New Times learned after reviewing the 12 meetings and four integrity bulletins from the Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board in 2019.

The review also found that an additional 41 police officers and recruits voluntarily relinquished their peace officer certification or were denied a peace officer certification as a recruit.


Middle Management – The Weak Link – Policing Police Departments

What do the situations involving George Floyd, the Catholic priesthood and errant school teachers all have in common? Middle Management – The Weak Link

The world has been rocked by the death of George Floyd. More importantly, that the police officer involved had a long history of complaints against him with very little action taken regarding those complaints.

In the last twenty to thirty years, the world has also been stunned by allegations of sexual abuse, particularly of minors by priests and the lack of decisive action by the diocese. The practice was commonly to transfer the offending priest to another parish, where the behavior would repeat itself. In other news; more shockers were reports of sexual abuse of minors by their teachers in schools.

Is the surprise that people who have control issues are often attracted to jobs in the police force? Are we amazed that pedophiles are attracted to professions such as the priesthood, teaching, counseling, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts where they will have access to young children?

Are we stunned to find out that individuals will enroll themselves in long and arduous education and training programs which will then ‘qualify’ them for these jobs? Or, that they can be charming, winsome, and persuasive in their ability to get through interviews and screening processes? Is this so surprising? What is the cure?

In the state of Arizona, where I live, there are a number of governing boards for different professions. There is the State Bar of Arizona for lawyers, the AZ State Medical Board for doctors, the AZ Nursing Board for Discipline; also the AZ teacher Certificate Board for the Department of Education and the AZ Board of Accountancy for accountants and CPA’s. There may be others I am not mentioning.

Each of these professions require tremendous time, energy and education to become licensed or certified to work. Also, each have a duty of care and responsibility to the public and there is an avenue ( the Board) where complaints against the individual can be filed.

Should anyone in these professions lose their license/credential, the result is not just the loss of a single job, they lose the ability to work in that field at all, period. Once an attorney loses his license, he cannot practice law. A doctor or nurse who loses their license cannot practice medicine. For a teacher to lose their credential status, they can no longer teach. There are instances where an individual can regain their license through the governing committee; however, it is usually a long and arduous process and depends on the nature of the offense.

Many of these professionals work in public forums like schools, county hospitals or county law offices. They are therefore, paid public servants. How then are they different from police officers? The police are public employees and go through extensive training and interviews to get the job. They are expected to be professional, to act in a professional manner and are usually paid well.

What similar organizations exist to promote accountability with our police departments? In Arizona there is the AZ POST where officers can obtain an AZ Police Certificate. How much bite does this department have on discipline measures? What about other states?

As a teacher in the state of Arizona, anyone can look up my name and see a history of any disciplinary complaints against me that were lodged with the state. The same system exists in the State of California where I used to teach.

If teachers have that level of accountability, and nurses, lawyers and doctors; why not police officers? We say that things happen when they are ‘under the gun’ and in ‘adverse conditions’. OK, what professions do not operate frequently under adverse conditions?

Maybe it is time for there to be county, State and maybe even national licensing for professional police officers. Also, the ability for the regular public to file complaints with a State agency and not just to the specific police department involved.

I will a bit more blogging about this issue. We’ll compare how different states and perhaps, different counties, deal with complaints against officers and departments. Recent events have shown up that it is clear that departmental discipline measures are not enough. Defunding is not likely to solve the problem. Another system will simply evolve with different names. The issues will remain. A viable system of accountability is what is needed; if that causes some individuals to lose their jobs, maybe that is what needs to happen.