College or Career? No, and.

According to the US Census report, there are about to 16 million students enrolled in colleges across the United States.  This statistic has increased consistently throughout U.S. history as the perception of the value of a college education is golden, evidence of movement into the middle or upper-class sectors of society.  Parents want their children to outperform and outearn them, yet that has not been the case of today’s college graduates.  As society changes in the wake of technology innovations and shifting global citizenry, career demands are also shifting.  As K-12 schools and districts grapple with the societal shifts, they are tasked with renovating courses, curricula, and pedagogical approaches.

One resounding reminder for schools, districts, and families is that students of the future ought not to choose between college and career, they should be planning for college and career.  In other words, the decisive move to attend college should invariably be tied to a career trajectory or aspiration.  Additionally, there are career options that may not require four-year university attendance, bachelor’s degree attainment, or graduate level work.  Many high paying careers remain vacant because candidates are not amply qualified or trained adequately with the essential skills necessary.

An essential subsequent move for schools and districts is to make substantial articulated relationships with industries, corporations, and professions, all sorts of societal industries throughout the local and global community.  This, in addition to the liberal arts basic education provided to students, should be the priority of families and schools.

Global California 2030

Since the passage of Proposition 58, California has been on the move regarding multilingualism, global citizenry, and 21st-century learning experiences. Proposition 58 converted to the Education for a Global Economy (EdGE) initiative, which enabled localities to decide the degree to which they would include instruction in students’ native languages, how and how many dual immersion programs they would foster, and how to prepare the digital native generation to grow up prepared to compete and collaborate in a 21st-century economy.

Former State Superintendent Tom Torlakson, before he retired from office, proposed the Global California 2030 initiative.

“The mission of Global California 2030 is to equip our students with the world language skills to succeed in the global economy and to fully engage with the diverse mixture of cultures and languages found in California and throughout the world,” Torlakson said. “We are setting high goals and dreaming big to help our students and our state.”

Tom Torlakson, Former State Superintendent of California Schools

The goals would encompass four ambitious calls to action, listed below.

  • By 2030, half of all K–12 students participate in programs leading to proficiency in two or more languages, either through a class, a program, or an experience.
  • The number of students who receive the State Seal of Biliteracy, which is nationally recognized for college admissions and career opportunities, more than triples from 46,952 in 2017 to more than 150,000 in 2030. By 2040, three out of four graduating seniors earn the Seal of Biliteracy. The Seal is earned by demonstrating proficiency in a language in addition to English.
  • The number of dual immersion programs that teach languages besides English quadruples from about 400 in 2017 to 1,600 in 2030.
  • The number of new bilingual teachers authorized in world language classes more than doubles from 2017 to 2030.

GEE is prepared to meet this challenge and support schools and classrooms to prepare all students to be college and career ready in a global economy today. See Global Classroom for more information about collaborating internationally in your classroom or school.

Ancestry Quest

My husband recently purchased a DNA read from Ancestry.com because we thought it would be enlightening and comical to find out about my European genealogy, of which I was 99% certain I was majority German. Albeit to me to find out that I inherited 58% German (Bavarian), 33% Czech (Bohemian), and 9% British, Welsh, and Russian. Conclusively, I am the majority German that I thought I was, but I was surprised to find out that Austrian wasn’t as much a part of my heritage. Upon some searching, I found that about 6 generations prior for one strand of my paternal grandmother’s side came from Austria, but nearly everyone else from both paternal and maternal lineage traversed from Czech and southern Germany. To be honest, having traveled to the southern region of Germany recently, I learned that the Bavarian Alps region, which so closely borders Austria is also not far from the Czech border. So my people were farmers in search of land when they migrated to the United States, and they ended up in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Incidentally, among 1.4 million Germans who evacuated Germany in the 1880s, my ancestors were in search of the seemingly limitless land that was readily gotten in the cold tundras of the northern U.S., and Germans were pleased to stumble upon Wisconsin.

There is one patriarch that is missing from the Ancestry.com suggestions, in my maternal grandmother’s heritage, and that is who is the father of Joseph Warren Jr. The mother is suggested, but one could only imagine that the father of a Jr. must bear the same namesake, Joseph Warren. History tells us that there was a General Joseph Warren of Plymouth, Massachusetts and that Joseph Warren Jr. lived in Plymouth. It is possible that Joseph Warren Jr. had a son, Joseph Warren III who became the infamous General and nearly presidential candidate in early U.S. history; however, it seems that my Joseph Warren Jr. relative had at least another son named Michael Warren in 1796. Great uncle General Warren, perhaps?

Ancestry reveals history and the relationships that ensued to produce the offspring which were eventually to become us, but it says nothing about who we are to become and where we are going based on the choices we make today. My ancestors appeared to remain relatively close to the homogeneity of language and culture while they lived in north central Europe or even after they migrated across the Atlantic Ocean. They unveiled culturally homogeneous communities and embarked on reproducing within the comforts of familiarity. Paradoxically, this narrowness of language and culture is the antithesis of how I have chosen to live my life. If this is true for me, then I suspect this pioneering nature is present in all family trees somewhere. Be the steady and consistent one in your family or be the one who pushes boundaries and explores beyond comfort.

Thanksgiving Epiphany

Northwestern Medicine Cancer Center

After we enjoyed a family day spending time together, eating good food, and playing with the kids, we voyaged to the notorious and ironic black Friday sales on Thursday night in the Chicago Outlets in Chicago’s southwest suburbs.  Besides the fact that nearly 95.5% of all people shopping spoke colloquial languages other than English with friends and family, which is excitement enough for globally minded individuals, but en route home after the seemingly endless lines and deals we passed by the Northwestern Medicine Cancer Center.  This notion that an entire field of healthcare is dedicated to research, diagnoses, symptom identification, and treatment against this horrible disease struck me today like never before.  Their mission statement reads as listed below.

“Northwestern Medicine is dedicated to providing the most advanced healthcare to the communities and patients we serve. The Northwestern Medicine clinical and administrative staff, medical and science faculty and medical students come together everyday with a shared commitment to superior quality, academic excellence, scientific discovery and patient safety.”

How is this relevant to K-12 education?

Several questions sprung to mind immediately as I digested the words “Cancer Center” amidst the expansive healthcare field.  Questions such as:

  1. What do we know about cancer and it’s consequences that we need to create an entire center to address is?
  2. As a trained professional educator and administrator, how specialized am I to address the cancers in education?
  3. What research informs how I treat our education maladies that are cancerous to our learning environments?
  4. How does this relate to K-12 education in America and our cities on a micro and macro level?
  5. How important is it for us to resolve the cancer or cancers in our field?

I once heard an education practitioner say that “at least in our field we are not responsible for life and death.”  I disagree.  I think we hold the keys to life in our grasp every day through education.

Nelson Mandela said it so eloquently, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  Lack of education often implies poverty, and poverty often perpetuates social underpinnings such as poor health, destructive relationships, lack of voice, and these frustrations beget more problems.  The cycle of poverty has been labeled as such because there is a long history of the cyclical nature of chasing shadows or roaming around a mountain repeatedly with no forward momentum in sight.  

This is why I do believe that education is life and death, maybe not immediate life and death, though that is shifting amidst our modern American schools and communities with the epidemic of mass gun violence.  Rather, in education, everyone knows that with one year of an ineffective teacher, a student can dramatically fall behind their peers elsewhere, and students from poverty cannot afford that in their lives.  

What is our cancer center in education?

We are well versed in the colloquialisms of 21st-century learning: terms such as collaborate, communicate, think critically, innovate, and design are pervasive.  We have studied organizational change management, studied successful systems, programs, and schools.  We have done meta-analyses on what has the greatest effect size in moving the needle in students’ learning.  Therefore, could we correlate these works with saving students’ lives and increasing social mobility?  With the great ocean of effective and hard-working teachers on this planet, I like to believe that we are absolutely setting student up for success.  But, what is our cancer center?

In the spirit of giving thanks, I would like to personally thank every teacher who pours his or her blood, sweat, tears, sleepless nights, investigative weekends, and hard-earned dollars into their students to ensure a greater degree of mastery and academic achievement.