Let's Talk about What We Value

10/15/2003 By: Susan McLester

Last August, The New York Times Op-Ed columnist Bob Herbert wrote a piece entitled "The Kids Left Behind" in which he recounted Bush's campaign behavior, when "hugging kids coast-to-coast," he espoused his dedication to education and improving opportunities for all students. Herbert goes on to detail how Bush's record since his election has pretty much been one of a steady undermining of the nation's public education system. His conclusion about Bush's promises regarding education: "It was all smoke, of course-photo-ops in a cynical campaign."

I would like to thank Mr. Herbert for that column, and go on record as standing with him on this issue. At this particular crux in the history of education, technology, and global communication, strong, visionary leadership and support are more important than ever if our kids are to have the skills they need to survive and prosper in the 21st century. But this administration's narrow education agenda, combined with the broad and abrupt imposition of the "highly qualified" standards for teachers and the continual hacking away at budgets, is backing education into an exceedingly tight and dark corner.

We're all in agreement on better education and higher standards for kids and teachers, but what is the national plan and where are the resources to help us get there? It is not a healthy sign when good principals, such as New York City's Ellen Foote (quoted in Trend Watch) remark of the education leadership of the hour, "They say these things that have nothing to do with reality."

In this month's cover feature, "21st Century Skills: Will Our Students Be Prepared?," author Judy Salpeter addresses a central aspect of this conundrum: the daily curriculum. At the core of the piece is the issue of whether we continue to teach only what we have traditionally been able to measure-our current national education policy-or whether we find new ways to measure the skills we value, thus ensuring they continue to be taught. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a group that's stepped up to the plate to spearhead a national conversation around that very issue, is performing a service that should have been initiated at the federal level. As you'll see when you read the article, the partnership (which continues to articulate a vision that began with earlier efforts by the CEO Forum's STaR Chart and the SCANS Report) talks not only about integrating technology into education, but also about the importance of literacy, communication, self-direction, global awareness, and numerous other skills they suggest our children need in order to survive and thrive in the information age. As always, T&L continues to be dedicated to helping educators come as close as possible to achieving professional excellence. And thus, we invite you all to join the discussion. Weigh in at www.techlearning.com with your comments, opinions, and suggestions on this issue and this month's cover article.

Susan McLester, editor in chief, T&L smclester@cmp.com


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