For the third consecutive year, Apple tops the list of most innovative companies.
Fixing Our Schools
Joel Klein, former chancellor of the New York City Department of Education and advocate for private sector involvement in education, joined former Nextel SVP and newly reelected Delaware Governor Jack Markell on Wednesday at the Washington Ideas Forum to discuss what interviewer Michele Norris called the most pressing issue facing America today.
Both speakers said they wished education had played a larger role in the election, as education impacts every aspect of the American economy and foreign policy. "There was not as much discussion in education in the election as I would have liked," said Markell, "but I think people understand that the most important improvement we can trigger is that the countries that out-educate today will out-compete tomorrow. It's a reality that many more people are facing. "
Markell discussed the controversial program in Delaware schools of teaching kindergarteners in a foreign language, saying, "We're understanding that how we prepare children to compete in the global economy is the single most important investment we can make. We have a long way to go as a country, but we're moving in the right direction." In the state, 340 kindergartens are learning math and science in foreign languages, including Chinese. Markell said he was able to convince parents that teaching children to communicate in foreign languages was a economic imperative.
Klein agreed but added that not only was it an economic imperative, it was an issue of national security. "Three out of four kids in America today are ineligible for the military either for academic or other reasons," he said. "We're fishing from a very, very small pond."
"Social mobility in America has been arrested. If we don't have a way to convince people that wherever you start, you can succeed, we're going to lose," Klein said. "We're losing ground on this issue."
Markell said that one of the biggest threats facing education reform was inertia. Many Americans think that the education they received 25 years ago will be good enough for their children and don't realize how the world has fundamentally changed. "I tell parents, even if your kids don't know anything less, fewer of them are going to be proficient," the governor said. "If you get good shooting at an eight-foot basket, the problem is when you get into a game."
Klein said that educational reform must include an overhaul of the teaching profession. "Unless and until teaching becomes a true and respected profession in America, we are going to fail," he said. "If half the doctors or lawyers quit within five years, people would see this as a crisis. We've got to come together and create a real profession in teaching, that stands for excellence, is built on merit and strives for dynamism."