U.S. Senate bill supports 21st-century skills

June 9, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

Senate bill supports 21st-century skills

Bipartisan measure would give states matching funds to develop progressive curricula

By Maya T. Prabhu, Assistant Editor, eNews

States offering students curriculum options that integrate key 21st-century skills would receive matching federal funds through an incentive bill introduced in the U.S. Senate May 13 by West Virginia Democrat John D. Rockefeller IV.

The legislation was developed using ideas generated from West Virginia educators and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which researched and surveyed the skills students need in the classroom to remain competitive for the future, according to a press release from Rockefeller’s office.

“The knowledge base and skills set that most students learn in school should expand to provide students with the skills, like critical thinking and problem solving, needed to succeed in modern workplaces and communities,” Rockefeller said when he introduced the bill. “The purpose of the 21st Skills Incentive Funds Act is to offer competitive grants from the Department of Education for states willing to invest in education reform.

Although the economic downturn has current challenges for new investment in education, waiting for a better time to engage in reform would be unwise,” he added. Shelley Pasnik, director of the Education Development Center’s Center for Children and Technology, said she is pleased to see the bill addresses more than simply putting more technology into schools. “The legislation goes beyond technology. It’s about implementing a framework for 21st-century learning,” she said. “It’s more promising this way. If it were just about technology purchases, it would be a missed opportunity.”

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