Future Ready Schools is an effort being led by the Alliance for Excellent Education and the U.S. Department of Education to maximize digital learning opportunities and help school districts move quickly toward preparing students for success in college, a career, and full participation as citizens. Over 2000 districts across the nation have signed the Future Ready Pledge including the Santa Cruz County Office of Education. In total, the pledge signers represent over 14 million students. The Santa Cruz County Office of Education, through the TICAL project (Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership), has taken a lead as a national, Future Ready partner in this effort by recently hosting a virtual, Future Ready School Leadership Summit. This national effort and connection with the U.S. Department of Education provided the county office with a seat at the decision making table. On Friday, June 26th, Jason Borgen and Rowland Baker were invited to the Future Ready Schools Coalition Partner meeting at the White House in Washington, D.C.
An historic day in D.C. in several regards, the group of fifty educators (and students) from across the nation represent the most innovative organizations. The themes of the day included how to support Future Ready efforts through hosting events, highlighting effective practices, developing tools and resources, and aligning our activities with each other.
The day began with an overview by Roberto Rodriguez, President Obama’s White House Deputy Assistant of Education, who shared updates on the president’s 2013 ConnectEd Initiative including progress made toward connecting schools with high-speed broadband internet to support personalized and authentic learning environments. The meeting was facilitated by the Department of Education’s Educational Technology Division, including Director Richard Culatta, Deputy Director Joseph South, and Senior Advisor Katrina Stevens. The team shared the efforts being made by the Department and the Alliance for Excellent Education, a DC based non-profit led by former West Virginia Governor Bob Wise. The initiative brought together 12 Regional Summits from across the nation, bringing district level teams together to discuss education reform and how to implement change in their school systems, by focusing on seven gears of success known as the Future Ready Framework. Over 2000 educational leaders attended a regional summit and over 600 attendees were registered for TICAL’s virtual summit.
TICAL was one of three presenting organizations that provided an overview of the work they are doing to support Future Ready Schools nationwide. Other organizations that presented were Common Sense Media and the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation. The meeting concluded with the 30 or so organizations discussing how the Future Ready movement can continue to grow so educational decision makers can be aligned and focused on the target of preparing students for college and careers in the digital age. The Alliance for Excellent Education and the U.S. Department of Education have already put together a free planning dashboard for districts to utilize to help them plan strategically and will be highlighting several districts across the nation who have made vast changes in their district programs to support student achievement.
TICAL was honored to represent the Santa Cruz County Office of Education at the White House and will continue to be a leading, national organization to support authentic learning and educational reform.