Education experts, advocates, and policy-makers gathered earlier this week at The Atlantic’s Digital Town Hall meeting, “Jobs and Economy of the Future: Educating the Next Generation to Compete,” where discussion centered around how best to prepare students for college and careers. Problems such as the achievement gap, college readiness, technology in the classroom, and STEM jobs were all topics of conversation as the audience looked to the educational leaders assembled for dialogue about education issues.
Secretary Arne Duncan joined Judy Woodruff, correspondent and co-anchor of the PBS NewsHour, to discuss the link between education and the economy.
Duncan pointed to the massive cultural change needed in order to improve our educational system and better prepare students to compete in the 21st-century global economy. Better training in order to produce more effective teachers, making connections between K-12 and careers, engaging students in their passions, and challenging schools to innovate were all significant points made by Duncan.
While technology has transformed our lives, Duncan noted that in many cases technology does not seem to be utilized to its potential in the classroom.
“I’m a big believer that technology can be an amazing equalizer and provide opportunity for children,” Duncan said. “Whether it’s in the inner-city or in a remote or rural community or Native American reservation, I think technology can provide access to a world class education that so many children have been denied.”
Bridging the gap between education and the private sector was also a major theme throughout the town hall. In addition to the need for private sector support for education, the need for better preparation by educators for students entering the workforce came up, as many companies cite poor communication and critical thinking skills in new college graduates. Western Governors University President Robert Mendenhall, who took part in a panel during the town hall, noted that partnerships between higher education and employers would help better prepare college students for careers. (Read about one such partnership between the University of Northern Colorado and Greeley, Colo.).
Madalyn Muncy is a junior at Hope College in Holland, Mich., and an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach