Opinion
College & Workforce Readiness Letter to the Editor

The Economy Depends on Good Geography Instruction

September 22, 2015 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

To the Editor:

With students across the nation now back for a new school year, and last year’s graduates navigating the job market, we continue to overlook a vital area that can boost academic skills and help our economy sustain full employment: geography.

Geography-related jobs—a sector that features high salaries and low unemployment—will grow rapidly over the next decade, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment of geographers is projected to grow by 29 percent from 2012 to 2022, compared with an anticipated 11 percent increase for all occupations. Employment of geoscientists is projected to rise 16 percent from 2012 to 2022, and a 14 percent increase is expected for surveying and mapping technicians. Yet, the American Geosciences Institute’s “Status of the Geoscience Workforce 2014" report predicts a shortage of around 135,000 geoscientists by the end of the decade.

We are not preparing our young people to claim these jobs and advance innovative ways to use technology. Only 27 percent of 8th graders nationwide are proficient in geography—unchanged from 2010 to 2014, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP.

Geography is not simply recalling state capitals and reading maps. It involves knowledge crucial to everyday living, and there are dozens of related careers. So how do we change the focus?

First, local and state officials can ensure a robust geography curriculum spanning all grades, and protect geography courses from budget cuts.

Second, more educators should recognize that geography is among the constellation of subjects that constitute STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), making it possible for related technologies to be introduced in such classes.

Finally, we can encourage more business leaders in geography-related fields to get involved and work with local K-12 schools and colleges to develop mentoring programs, internships, and teacher training.

NAEP informs us of our academic progress. Now it is up to policymakers and educators to lead.

Terry Mazany

Chair

National Assessment Governing Board

President and Chief Executive Officer

The Chicago Community Trust

Chicago, Ill.

Zachary Robert Dulli

Chief Executive Officer

National Council for Geographic Education

Washington, D.C.

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the September 23, 2015 edition of Education Week as The Economy Depends on Good Geography Instruction

Events

Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Meaningful
Join us for this event with educators and experts on the damage the pandemic did to academic and social and emotional well-being.
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
Privacy & Security Webinar
K-12 Cybersecurity in the Real World: Lessons Learned & How to Protect Your School
Gain an expert understanding of how school districts can improve their cyber resilience and get ahead of cybersecurity challenges and threats.
Content provided by Microsoft
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
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Schools 101: Best Practices & Key Benefits
Learn how to develop a coordinated plan of action for addressing student trauma and
fostering supportive, healthy environments.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute

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 Biden Administration Urges Schools to Expand Apprenticeships and Career Learning
In too many schools, "it's a four-year college or bust mentality," Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said.
4 min read
First Lady Jill Biden steers a robot while robotics students Ethan Salibio and Kaitlyn De Loncker watch at Rolling Meadows High School on Monday, Nov. 14, 2022, in Rolling Meadows, Ill. Biden, along with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona are in the Chicago area promoting apprenticeship and career-connected learning opportunities.
First lady Jill Biden steers a robot while students Ethan Salibio and Kaitlyn De Loncker watch at Rolling Meadows High School Monday, in Rolling Meadows, Ill. Biden, along with U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh, and U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona are in the Chicago area promoting apprenticeship and career-connected learning opportunities.
Stacey Wescott/Chicago Tribune via AP
College & Workforce Readiness Opinion Searching for Common Ground: Student-Loan Forgiveness and the Cost of Higher Ed.
Who is responsible for the high cost of higher education? And will the student-loan forgiveness plan solve the rising cost?
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 More Students in Class of 2022 Seek Financial Aid for College
Financial aid applications may be an early sign of students regaining interest in higher education post-pandemic.
2 min read
Hand holding a graduate's cap turned upside down and full of money.
DigitalVision Vectors
College & Workforce Readiness What the Research Says New Graduates' ACT Scores Hit a 30-Year Low
College-placement test scores sank for the graduating class of 2022, even as more students retook the test.
4 min read
Arrows, with focus on downward turn.
panom73/iStock/Getty