From opening words reflecting upon the power of education, the President’s address mirrored his commitment to ensure each American has access to a world-class education. This year’s State of the Union continued this pledge and reflected upon priorities such as STEM education, affordable higher education and the preparation of tomorrow’s workforce through initiatives such as ConnectED, with the goal of connecting the country’s students and schools to high-speed broadband and digital learning opportunities. The focus on innovation and education as drivers of opportunity for America’s students and the country was well received and a job well done.
iNACOL, too, applauds the continued efforts of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and policy leaders such as Acting Deputy Secretary of Education Jim Shelton. The Administration has placed great emphasis on spearheading innovation and change within our public school system. The Race to the Top programs have driven a strategy providing a greater focus on personalizing learning for each and every child. Because of this, there is renewed emphasis on how our schools and classrooms can individualize instruction for every child’s needs, provide greater equity through new learning models, empower practice through online and blended learning, and focus on moving from a one-size-fits-all education approach toward competency-based pathways.
As the President noted, “those who go all in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow.” And innovation breeds innovation. We believe in empowering student-centered, personalized learning that allows students to have tailored learning opportunities for each student’s strengths, needs and interests. In focusing on personalizing learning and opening access, new school models can unleash the promise and potential of each and every student in ways never before possible.
What our schools and our children need is a redesign of our education system to provide true equity of access and opportunity for every child to find success through student-centered policies and personalized learning environments. Technology has enabled true personalization in almost every facet of our lives, and we believe it can assist our schools and teachers accelerate every student’s achievement and success. Only then will we unleash the full potential of the next generation of American education to meet the promise of our democracy and society.
Tom Vander Ark is a director at iNACOL.