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Global Cities Education Network

The recent International Summit on the Teaching Profession brought together governments and teacher organizations around ideas on how to create a stronger teaching profession. Lots of models were shared, but an important question remained: how do school systems translate words to action?

The answer is not to learn just from talk, but to learn with the world. The Global Cities Education Network, a new Asia Society initiative, will allow school systems to do just that.

Urban school systems are both the sites of critical educational challenges and the engines of innovation needed to address them. The Global Cities Education Network brings together multi-sector teams from Asian and North American cities to examine shared, high-priority problems in education policy and practice. The Network will focus on topics related to two overarching issues of equal urgency in urban school systems. The first is to transform learning so students have the knowledge and higher-order thinking skills needed to succeed in a 21st century global economic and civic environment. The second is to achieve equity so that all students have access to an excellent education.

A common trait high-performing school systems share is they systematically adapt and implement international best practices. No country or district can simply copy what another has done; new policies must fit within their own cultural and political contexts.

During the Summit, Zhang Minxuan, a key designer of the reforms that helped Shanghai become the highest-performing education system on the most recent PISA assessment, told how he and his colleagues traveled around the world in the 1990s to learn how countries like the United States and Switzerland addressed the same policy challenges Shanghai faced. They returned to Shanghai with new knowledge and designed better policy. Likewise, the Global Cities Education Network will allow leaders to travel and see effective policies in action as well as learn from other school systems around the world.

The OECD has demonstrated that data analysis does a lot to identify the successes and failures of education policy and what others can learn from them. This type of data and analysis will be at the heart of the Global Cities Education Network and will be shared widely, not just within the Network.

Utilizing the knowledge and best practices we find from cities around the world, we hope to inspire policies that significantly impact and lift up education systems for our all of students.

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