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Education Letter to the Editor

K-12 Global Education: A North Carolina Update

May 10, 2005 2 min read
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But as I reflect on 25 years of working in the field, I have never felt the current level of energy and will to strengthen teaching and learning about the world. Our students, our schools, and our state will to be the real beneficiaries.

Thank you for raising the visibility of K-12 global education with front-page coverage, (“International Studies a Hard Sell in U.S.,” April 20, 2005). As one in the trenches whose work was highlighted in the article, I’d like to offer an update.

We are making real progress in North Carolina. Legislation to identify the knowledge and skills our students need to thrive in the global economy has been introduced in both houses of the state legislature. Policymakers are setting the expectation that our students will learn about other languages and cultures to help them cooperate and compete with people of different cultures from all over the world.

More than 150 people joined us at an April 11, 2005, conference for the unveiling of a statewide plan, North Carolina in the World. Many partners are already delivering high-quality international education. Dual-immersion language programs, such as Japanese and English in kindergarten, and interactive videoconferencing connecting North Carolina high school students with young people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America are just two examples.

On a parallel track, business leaders from across the state are hard at work persuading colleagues and policymakers of the importance of a globally competent workforce, something that comes from infusing international content across all subjects, preschool through graduation. Top executives from United Parcel Service and several other important North Carolina employers have made a compelling case that their global organizations need to recruit students with a new skill set that includes a global perspective.

It’s hard work to sort through competing education and economic-development priorities. It’s hard work to show that giving our students international skills and knowledge is one of the most important policies we can pursue toward economic vitality for our state. But as I reflect on 25 years of working in the field, I have never felt the current level of energy and will to strengthen teaching and learning about the world. Our students, our schools, and our state will to be the real beneficiaries.

Millie Ravenel

Center for International Understanding

University of North Carolina

Raleigh, N.C.

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