Following the growing trend toward globalizing education, last month, the U.S. Department of Education published a new international education strategy for 2012-2016.

This strategy comes on the heels of the second International Summit on the Teaching Profession held on March 14-15, 2012 in New York and the 13th annual International Education Week,November 12-16, 2012.

The goal of the 2012 Summit was to explore three specific topics: 1) developing school leaders; 2) preparing teachers for the delivery of 21st century skills; and 3) preparing teachers to work and succeed where they are most needed.The U.S. Department of Education, Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Education International (EI), the global federation of teacher unions, together with U.S.-based organizations—the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), Asia Society, the Council of Chief State School Officers(CCSSO), the National Education Association (NEA), and public broadcaster WNET as well as the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) participated in the summit.

“We must focus on integrating international perspectives into our classrooms. It is through education and exchange that we become better collaborators, competitors and compassionate neighbors in this global society,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

The goals of the new strategy are to strengthen U.S. education and advance U.S. international priorities through integrated and coordinated activities and programs. This will enable the U.S. to increase global competencies, learn from other countries and engage in education diplomacy.

Why an international focus?
Since globalization and international exchange are no longer faint ideas but our reality, educators in the United States are pushing for a more international focus within education.“Our hyper-connected world also requires the ability to think critically and creatively to solve complex problems, the skills and disposition to engage globally, well-honed communication skills, and advanced mathematics, science and technical skills.” The Department of Education lists four main reasons as motivation for the implementation of this new strategy.

  1. Economic competitiveness and jobs – since current students will be competing for jobs with their peers worldwide, it is essential that they are prepared with the skills to thrive in this new global marketplace.
  2. Global challenges – many issues, phenomena and catastrophes permeate international borders, such as climate change, the spread of disease and financial crises. Students need to be able to collaborate with their peers internationally to come up with solutions to these challenges.
  3. National Security and diplomacy – knowledge of other cultures and languages is critical not only to international communication, also but for national security, diplomacy and policy-making.
  4. A diverse U.S. society – as a multicultural society with over 50 million immigrants living in the U.S. in 2010, it is important for U.S. students to learn about other cultures to assist civil discourse and a form a cohesive society.

“Ultimately, the economic future of the United States rests not only on its ability to strengthen our education system but also on citizens in other nations raising their living standards. Thinking of the future as a contest among nations vying for larger pieces of a finite economic pie is a recipe for protectionism and global strife. Expanding educational attainment everywhere is the best way to grow the pie for all,” summed up U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

Based on information from Succeeding Globally Through International Education and Engagement. U.S. Department of Education International Strategy 2012-16.
www2.ed.gov