Opinion
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion

Know Where You’re Stepping

By Anthony Jackson — May 04, 2012 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

School reform movements are not unlike salsa dancing: one step forward is sometimes quickly followed by one step back. With school reform, unlike great salsa moves, these steps are neither coordinated nor much fun.

Two weeks ago, the Obama administration proposed increased funding and autonomy for states to work with the private sector to align academic skills with workforce needs. Among other things, the new career and technical education (CTE) plan calls for better collaboration and accountability from all stakeholders, including school districts, universities, and the private sector.

Many countries have already aligned their education system to workforce needs—and to great success. Singapore, for example, designed curriculum, teacher professional development, and student assessment systems based on input from businesses, and data that showed workforce trends. The nation’s economic growth is roughly twice that of the United States’, despite difficult global economic turmoil.

When U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan announced the new CTE plan, I thought it was a step in the right direction.

Then I read about a proposal put before the New York State Board of Regents to cut the global history and geography exit exam in order to prioritize two CTE pathways instead. (I should note this plan was in the works for two years and was not a reaction to Secretary Duncan’s announcement.)

Proponents of the proposal argue that roughly half of all test takers failed the global history and geography exam, and it is too difficult and less relevant than the other CTE pathways. Their intentions, however good, represent a step backwards.

We’ve entered a globally competitive, knowledge-based economy. A rising workforce must possess global knowledge and skills. Global history and geography allow students to understand interconnected systems, as well as the roots of tradition and conflict that sometimes shape international and interpersonal relations.

I’m not suggesting that an exit exam is the answer. But this I urge: as New York and other states consider how to meet workforce needs, talk with local industries and multinational corporations. When I meet with business leaders, the message is clear: globally competent workers are in high demand.

With better coordination, the steps we take together can be a wonderful thing.

The opinions expressed in Global Learning are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.


Commenting has been disabled on edweek.org effective Sept. 8. Please visit our FAQ section for more details. To get in touch with us visit our contact page, follow us on social media, or submit a Letter to the Editor.


Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
What’s Next for Teaching and Learning? Key Trends for the New School Year
The past 18 months changed the face of education forever, leaving teachers, students, and families to adapt to unprecedented challenges in teaching and learning. As we enter the third school year affected by the pandemic—and
Content provided by Instructure
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Curriculum Webinar
How Data and Digital Curriculum Can Drive Personalized Instruction
As we return from an abnormal year, it’s an educator’s top priority to make sure the lessons learned under adversity positively impact students during the new school year. Digital curriculum has emerged from the pandemic
Content provided by Kiddom
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Equity & Diversity Webinar
Leadership for Racial Equity in Schools and Beyond
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to reveal systemic racial disparities in educational opportunity, there are revelations to which we can and must respond. Through conscientious efforts, using an intentional focus on race, school leaders can
Content provided by Corwin

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

College & Workforce Readiness Opinion What Will It Take to Get High School Students Back on Track?
Three proven strategies can support high school graduation and postsecondary success—during and after the pandemic.
Robert Balfanz
5 min read
Conceptual illustration of students making choices based on guidance.
Viktoria Kurpas/iStock
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion An Economist Explains How to Make College Pay
Rick Hess speaks with Beth Akers about practical advice regarding how to choose a college, what to study, and how to pay for it.
6 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says College Enrollment Dip Hits Students of Color the Hardest
The pandemic led to a precipitous decline in enrollment for two-year schools, while four-year colleges and universities held steady.
3 min read
Conceptual image of blocks moving forward, and one moving backward.
Marchmeena29/iStock/Getty
College & Workforce Readiness Letter to the Editor How We Can Improve College-Completion Rates
Early- and middle-college high schools have the potential to improve college completion rates, says this letter to the editor.
1 min read