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The Future of K-12 Education is in Teacher Training and High Standards By New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia The global economy is changing the nature of work and the lor Nancy Zimpher, on the TeachNY campaign. TeachNY is a kinds of careers our children will pursue. Data from the U.S. movement to lift-up the teaching profession and ensure that Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that the fastest-grow- New York and the nation will have the high-quality educators ing occupations will require highly educated, highly skilled needed for the future. This includes updating the curriculum workers. Many of these careers will be in the science, tech- used in schools of education, so that teachers are prepared to deliver the new, more rigorous learning standards. nology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Teachers — especially those who teach at the elementary It is more important than ever that we provide all students with the knowledge and skills they’ll need to succeed in an ever-more level — must be prepared to give our youngest learners a solid competitive global environment. In New York, we continue to base of knowledge in the STEM areas. And we must support take important steps to help ensure that students are prepared and encourage them to engage in “hands-on” teaching, both inside and outside of the classroom. Those kinds of hands-on exfor success after high school. We recently updated our English language arts and mathe- periences are often the most meaningful for children, and instill matics learning standards — that is, what we expect students in them an early love for scientific exploration and discovery. It is sometimes hard to imagine just how quickly and radically to know and do in the various subject areas at each grade level. The process was deliberate, transparent and collaborative; ex- technology has changed our lives. Smart phones have been compert educators were involved every step of the way. The result mercially available for only 10 years, but we already take for granted the awesome computing power we will be improved teaching and learning “...our students need an now all carry in our pockets. So, our stuin New York’s classrooms, with a greater emphasis on supporting English laneducation that will prepare dents need an education that will prepare them to use (and maybe even help develguage learners, students with disabilities them to use (and maybe op) the new technologies that will solve and other special populations. even help develop) the the world’s ever-more complex problems. At the same time, using the nationnew technologies that will Success in the future will also require ally-developed Next Generation Science us to do a much better job of ensuring eqStandards as a starting point, we utisolve the world’s ever-more uity, diversity and integration throughout lized the expertise of science education complex problems.” our educational systems. Research shows stakeholders to draft a rigorous new set of science learning standards. Our vision for the future of sci- that socioeconomic and racial integration leads to better acaence education is now contained in the New York State P-12 demic outcomes for all students, while at the same time reducScience Learning Standards. These new standards provide ing the achievement gap among students of different racial and endless possibilities for teachers to engage students in science ethnic backgrounds. As well, we must continue to work to ensure learning experiences that explore, advance and deepen their that schools are safe havens where students are free and empowered to learn without fear of discrimination, harassment or understanding of natural phenomena. The process of establishing learning standards cannot be intimidation because of their race, ethnicity, religion, immigration a static one; we must continually review and renew the stan- status, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or any other dards to ensure our children can keep pace with a world that is basis. Every school must provide a learning environment where all students feel safe and welcome, and where parents and families evolving rapidly and continuously. Studies show that the quality of a child’s teacher is the sin- are encouraged to take an active role in their children’s education. I believe strongly that education holds the key to our future sucgle most important school-based factor in that student’s educational success. So, we have put a great deal of effort into cess. I am encouraged and optimistic that here in New York we are the way we train and support teachers. For the past two years, taking the right steps to provide the kinds of educational opportuI have worked closely with my good friend, SUNY Chancel- nities that will lift-up our society for generations to come. 14

The New York Academy of Sciences Magazine, Fall 2017  
The New York Academy of Sciences Magazine, Fall 2017  

Imagining the Next 100 Years