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A Global Opportunity

Tomorrow, Quality Counts comes out and this year's focus is "The Global Challenge." The report will look at American education in an international context. This makes sense. The class of 2012 will go on to collaborate and compete with people throughout the world, and the ones with the best education will likely come out ahead.

I'm honored to be a part of a panel tomorrow at the Quality Counts launch event—along with Mary Jean Gallagher of the Ontario Ministry of Education, Emiliana Vegas of the World Bank, and fellow EdWeek.org blogger Mark Tucker of the National Center on Education and the Economy—to talk about the opportunities that the global knowledge economy presents, and how school systems should respond.

I'll discuss the rise of Asia in international rankings. In PISA's 2009 study, eight of the top ten highest performing school systems were in Asia, where the trend is to modernize education policy and practice to include new ways to think about the world.

The competencies that are called for in these Asian school systems closely mirror the global competence definition developed by Asia Society and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Frankly, the Asian emphasis on global competence is a lot more genuine than what we see in the United States today. Ed Gragert of iEARN said it best: "Worldwide, 'global education' is simply known as 'education.'" In the United States, rhetoric about meeting the demands of the global knowledge economy abounds, but it rarely translates into wide-scale change in classrooms.

Therein lies an opportunity for American educators and policymakers to learn from their Asian counterparts, and vice versa. Asian school systems look to American schools and research institutions for innovation and creativity in teaching and learning.

Editorial Projects in Education framed this year's Quality Counts theme as a challenge, but in many ways, it is truly an opportunity—that is, if we take our future prosperity and well being seriously.

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