Education is Everyone’s Business

As the new State Superintendent for West Virginia, Michael Martirano hit the ground running.  A month into the job he’s sharing One Voice, One Focus: All Students Achieving, a plan based on 10 well- stated priorities including gap closing, increasing grad rates, engaging stakeholders, and establishing safe learning environments.
Dr. Martirano, who was formerly a district superintendent in Maryland, was hired by a high functioning state board chaired by the former First Lady of West Virginia, Gayle Manchin. Speaking about personalized learning to a group of statewide leaders assembled by the Education Alliance, the new chief said, “To teach a child well, you need to know a child well.”
Martirano speaks passionately about the moral imperative to cultivate the gifts of every child. Failure to connect, he suggests, leads to dropouts and a “ticket to jail.”
Dr. Amelia Courts leads the Education Alliance which has an impressive list of business leaders as board members. The business leaders that spoke at their annual summit echoed the title, reiterating that “Education is Everyone’s Business.”
From healthcare to manufacturing, business leaders said young people need to use math to solve problems, to communicate effective, and continue to learn (their description sounded a lot like Hewlett’s description of Deeper Learning).
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin is a vocal advocate of personalized learning and career education. A new video he shared, My State, My Life, encourages young people to investigate options, pick a career and pursue it.

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After describing the elements of next gen learning, I outlined the Smart Cities keys to education and employment including shared leadership, partnerships, talent development and aligned investment. I noted that, like most regions, West Virginia could use an innovation incubator like NOLA’s 4.0 Schools.
At a time when it’s easy to be discouraged about the state of federal education policy, it’s great to see leadership, alignment, and momentum in states like West Virginia. (See local coverage here.)
Connectivity counts. And, speaking of the Mountain State, former West Virginia governor Bob Wise and I hosted a webinar on connectivity yesterday (see #Internet4Schools). We discussed the link between broadband and personalized learning. Recalling a series of Digital Learning Now videos from 2010, we celebrated the progress American schools have made in access to technology, personalized learning models, and digital learning policy.
We discussed How EdTech is Meeting Special Needs and Preparing Teachers For Deeper Learning. We described how BYOD is Key to Active 3 Screen Day, Not An Equity Solution.
Governor Wise discussed E-rate policy and the importance of federal investment in connectivity. I mentioned the complementary need to modernize the Federal Communications Act, as outlined in a paper released yesterday, Modern Policy for Modern Learners. Better broadband for schools will require a market that is diverse, competitive, and innovative. I noted that FCC spectrum allocation should focus on education and mobile communications. It’s time for a #CommActUpdate.
It’s interesting to note the rapid technology convergence that has occurred in the last few years: cable operators offer telephone service, Amazon offers cloud computing, Google lays fiber. Less recognized is policy convergence–with connected learning, telecommunications policy is education policy. It’s another sign that education is everyone’s business.
Digital Learning Now is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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