Director Wise: Ever-changing world: Let's pause for thought
Being late usually carries negative consequences. However, in Thank You For Being Late, Thomas Friedman turns tardiness into opportunity. He uses an instance in which a friend was running behind to reflect upon a rapidly changing world.
Friedman highlights several trends impacting education and the workforce in this “age of accelerations:”
- In 2015, the majority of students in K-12 public schools were from minority backgrounds.
- Students on free and reduced-price lunch programs are at an all-time high.
- By 2020, according to a report by the Georgetown University Center of Education and the Workforce, 65 percent of all jobs will require some postsecondary education and training.
His conclusion? “Everyone is going to have to raise their game in the classroom and for their whole lifetime. What those numbers tell you is that we truly cannot afford to leave any child behind anymore… What those numbers also tell you is that leadership matters more than ever.” Instead of being overwhelmed by the pace of change, he calls readers to pause, reflect and reimagine.
This advice excites me. Each day I see Iowans raising their game while also pausing to ask the question, how do we create an education system that prepares all students to be successful in an ever-changing world?
One example of this reflection is the Future Ready Iowa Alliance.
The Alliance, led by Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds and Principal Financial Group CEO Dan Houston, is developing recommendations to ensure 70 percent of Iowans in the workforce have education or training beyond high school. They are considering recommendations that would expand high-quality work-based learning experiences, build relationships to support student success through the effective use of counselors and mentoring, and ensure effective academic and career development.
Iowa’s State Board of Education is also committed to ensuring our education system prepares all students for future success. At its March meeting, the State Board engaged in a conversation with the student-led Community for Racial Equity (CORE) team from Des Moines Public Schools, whose mission is to overcome educational obstacles by educating, encouraging, and empowering students of color to strive for excellence. The Board also discussed the recently released Closing the Achievement Gap Report from the Iowa Department of Education as part of its ongoing work to close opportunity and achievement gaps for all students.
While reaching the Future Ready goal and achieving equitable outcomes for all will not be easy, we are not starting from scratch. The State’s significant investments in early literacy; teacher leadership; high quality science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) experiences; and a revitalized approach to career and technical education (CTE) have set us on the right path.
Thank You For Being Late reinforces why these efforts are critical in an era of globalization and rapid technological change. Friedman emphasizes that current and future middle class jobs “require more knowledge and education to perform successfully. To compete for such jobs you need more of the three Rs – reading, writing, and arithmetic – and more of the four Cs – creativity, collaboration, communication, and coding.” He also explains that “the highest paying jobs in the future will be stempathy jobs – jobs that combine strong science and technology skills with the ability to empathize with another human being.”
Iowa is at the front end of retooling our education system in alignment with this advice. Our college and career readiness definition emphasizes not only the content knowledge that students need for success, but also the skills to navigate transitions through and beyond school as learners and leaders. And each week, I visit schools and classrooms with a clear vision for preparing students to be future ready.
While I don’t typically encourage lateness, I do hope each of us finds time to pause and reflect as we enter the final months of this academic year. I wish you all a strong finish as we look ahead to a rapidly changing future full of possibility!