EDUCATING GLOBAL CITIZENS Sarah Jerome, Grad ’89* Superintendent of the Arlington Heights (Ill.) School District “The World Future Society recently shared its forecasts for the next 25 years. While these forecasts are focused on energy, water, food, nanotechnology, weather, economy, transportation and political alliances, they all relate to education and they all presume an interdependent global society. The educated global citizen will need to be a nimble and flexible learner — one who can navigate the global society with high levels of transliteracy skills. Transliteracy is a new term meaning the ability to read, write and communicate across the world using multiple mediums. In addition, the educated global citizen will need to be multilingual and a diplomatic, creative, innovative problem-solver. These are skills that can be overtly taught in K–12 schools. Teaching students to be peacemakers may turn out to be the most essential skill of the 21st century.”
LESS UNION-DRIVEN RIGIDITY Dr. Robert Lowe Professor in Educational Policy and Leadership
Photo by Ben Smidt
“One important feature of the urban educational landscape that will change is the power of organized teachers: It will diminish — perhaps dramatically — as state legislatures not only act to trim benefits but also seek to end the very right to bargain collectively. Already, the proliferation of charter schools not bound by collective bargaining agreements is reducing the percentage of city teachers who belong to unions. Although the attack on teacher unions mostly comes from the right, elements of their critique should be embraced by the left as well. After all, almost nothing is easier than attaining tenure, nothing harder than dismissing a tenured teacher, nothing more frustrating for a school community than seniority alone determining who gets hired and who gets laid off. None of this is good for teaching and learning. Some union locals, it is true, have become
more flexible about these matters, but, in general, the teacher union mantra that what is good for teachers necessarily is good for the education of children rings false. Even so, vanquishing the unions is unlikely to create a better environment for teaching and learning. Even though it was a huge mistake for the unions to define teachers as workers rather than professionals, it was the pressure of organized teachers exclusively that resulted in more professional salaries, better working conditions and protections against arbitrary treatment. Without that pressure, the conditions to be good educators will be swept away, along with the bureaucratic rules and excessive protections that have limited good education.”
ENTREPRENEURIAL TEACHERS Ricardo Diaz Executive Director of the United Community Center “In the current political landscape, the changes in the role of the teacher’s union will have a big effect on urban education. As the profession becomes more competitive and includes using student performance to determine teacher salaries, the teacher of tomorrow will need to be flexible, entrepreneurial, creative and a true multitasker. This may involve longer school days and longer school years, as our education system evolves to better meet students needs. Competition for teaching positions from ‘teacher corps’ programs will grow as new approaches to education rise to the surface. With the right administrative guidance and support, many teachers will flourish as they are allowed to be creative and use their passion and personal skills to benefit students.” * I ndicates the expert is a College of Education alumnus or alumna.