Maine Joins Leading National Partnership on 21st Century Skills Education
July 30, 2007
Maine Department of Education
David Connerty-Marin, Director of Communications, Department of Education, 207-624-6880
PORTLAND — Maine is only the 6th state in the nation to join a national initiative to bring competitive 21st century teaching and learning skills to all schools, educators and students.
Maine Education Commissioner Susan A. Gendron announced Monday that Maine has joined the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a leading national advocacy organization. The Partnership brings together the business community, education leaders and policymakers to define a vision for education that ensures every child’s success as citizens and workers in the 21st century and to provide resources and networking to make that possible.
“The skills students need to enter and advance in the work force today are far beyond what were needed even 20 years ago,” Gendron said. “High school graduates need a global awareness, work skills that include team-building, creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem-solving, self-motivation and self-direction skills, information, communications and technology literacy, as well as high levels of literacy and numeracy. If we think we can let some of our students graduate with less than that and still succeed then we are fooling ourselves.”
Gendron made the announcement at a press conference at the Portland Regency Hotel with Ken Kay, president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills; Kathy Hurley, of Pearson Education, a Partnership board member; and Philip Dionne, vice chair of the Maine State Board of Education.
Gov. John Baldacci, a strong supporter of workforce training and incorporating technology and other 21st century skills into Maine schools’ curriculum, praised Maine’s entry into the partnership.
“The work of the partnership is directly in line with everything we are working toward in the state of Maine, in particular ensuring that our students graduate ready for college and career, as well as citizenship,” Baldacci said. “From our WIRED grant to laptops in the classroom and the Governor’s Work Force Cabinet – all of it is aimed at graduating our students with more than just specific knowledge, but with the know-how to succeed whether they head off for college or go straight into a career.”
Gendron said Maine is already leading the way in incorporating 21st century skills into the curriculum. In June the Maine Legislature approved revised Maine Learning Results standards with guiding principles that reflect work force skills. The state’s Maine Learning Technology Initiative put the state at the vanguard of technology education, using laptops not only as tools for learning, but as a foundation for creating information and technology literacy.
She has also introduced high school reform legislation that would require more rigorous standards, eliminate tracking, and put in place higher expectations for all high schools and all students to ensure they are globally competitive upon graduation. She said joining the Partnership would enhance the state’s ability to network nationally with powerhouse technology and other companies, national educational and other organizations, and to collaborate with other states in implementing best teaching and professional development practices, cutting edge curriculum, and assessment tools.
Ken Kay, president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, commended Maine for prioritizing the 21st century learning outcomes its students need to become successful citizens and workers in our increasingly globally interconnected society.
"Maine understands that for its students to be successful 21st century citizens and workers, its education system must expand beyond core subject mastery,” Kay said. “Incorporating 21st century interdisciplinary themes and learning projects into core curriculum will engage students and help them acquire essential 21st century skills.”
The states that have already signed on are Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Partnership member companies and organizations include: Adobe Systems, Inc., American Association of School Librarians, Apple, AT&T, Blackboard, Inc., Cable in the Classroom, Cisco Systems, Corporation for Public Broadcasting, Davis Publications, Dell, Inc., Discovery Education, EF Education, Education Networks of America, Education Testing Service, Ford Motor Company Fund, KnowledgeWorks Foundation, Intel Foundation, JA Worldwide™, LeapFrog SchoolHouse, McGraw-Hill Education, Microsoft Corporation, National Education Association, Oracle Education Foundation, Pearson Education, PolyVision, SAP, SAS, Texas Instruments, THINKronize, Thomson Gale, and Verizon.