Create Global Awareness: Statement on International Education Week 2011
by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
November 14-18, 2011
I am pleased to announce the 12th annual International Education Week starting on November 14. This year's theme is International Education: Inspiring Students Locally to Succeed Globally.
International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Departments of Education and State. It celebrates the benefits of understanding the world around us so we can better communicate and collaborate with others from different cultures. It is an ideal opportunity to inspire students to broaden their horizons through global learning, foreign languages and international exchange.
President Obama and I are passionate about providing all of our children with an education that will enable them to succeed in a globally competitive economy where knowledge and innovation are more important than ever. And, with the world's economies and societies becoming more and more interdependent, it is almost impossible to distinguish between domestic and international issues.
Therefore, we must work together to give all of our students an outstanding education, which includes learning about our global partners – their cultures, histories, languages, values, and viewpoints. 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.
There is no longer any doubt that local actions have international effects and consequences. International Education Week 2011 is a time to celebrate our connection with the world around us. I hope that you will join me this November in highlighting the importance of international education and exchange.
November 15-19, 2010
It is my privilege to invite you to participate in the 11th annual International Education Week, November 15-19, 2010. International Education Week is a joint initiative of the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of State. It celebrates the importance and benefits of international education in the United States and around the world. This year's theme is International Education: Striving for a Sustainable Future.
President Obama has stated, "All of us share this world for but a brief moment in time. The question is whether we spend that time focused on what pushes us apart, or whether we commit ourselves to an effort -- a sustained effort -- to find common ground, to focus on the future we seek for our children, and to respect the dignity of all human beings."
We are reminded that the challenges we face today are increasingly borderless. Climate change, the environment, and the economy are but some of the issues that affect our daily lives and demand our attention on a global scale. Finding sustainable solutions is imperative and will require an unprecedented level of international cooperation.
A complete education in the 21st century must teach our children about their interdependent world, and it must prepare them to be good leaders and good global citizens. International awareness and knowledge can help our children build the skills needed to communicate and cooperate with those from other nations and other cultures. And as they participate in international education and international exchange, our students can gain the knowledge and experiences to help them contribute to a sustainable future for all.
International Education Week 2010 is a chance to embrace the uniqueness of nations around the world as well as our similarities—to better understand how to work together. I strongly urge everyone to join the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of State in celebrating international
Experience Personal Growth: Remarks of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to the Closing Plenary of the U.S.-India Higher Education Summit, Georgetown University
by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
October 13, 2011
I am delighted to be here. The U.S.-India Higher Education Summit is supporting educational partnerships that all nations should aspire to empower.
I want to second Secretary Clinton’s vision and support for international partnerships, and our shared understanding that the United States and India mutually benefit from strengthening higher education.
I loved her story of the U.S. and Indian students at Stanford University who, working together, developed the Embrace Baby Warmer. That inexpensive, portable baby incubator is now saving the lives of pre-mature and low-weight babies in India.
I share Minister Sibal’s sense of urgency about expanding postsecondary education in today’s knowledge-based, global job market. He and Prime Minister Singh are challenging the educational status quo in India--just as we have done in the United States.
And I’m a big believer in international exchange programs. They are not just lofty-sounding programs with abstract benefits. In a global society, international exchange programs are economically vital and culturally invaluable. In fact, it was an international scholarship program that 52 years ago brought President Obama’s father to America to study at the University of Hawaii.
I hope your breakout sessions have, as Secretary Clinton urged, served as idea incubators for expanding and enriching the U.S.-India partnership. I understand some promising proposals were discussed, like innovative models for developing sustainable business-education partnerships, and expanding faculty-student exchanges and dual degree programs.
One reason this Summit is so timely is that the importance of international cooperation and collaboration in higher education cannot be taken for granted.
Unfortunately, in both the United States and India, there are some who treat international education partnerships as a zero sum game, where one country gains a competitive upper hand--instead of treating these partnerships as a win-win proposition for both nations.
Here in the U.S., skeptics of international collaboration warn that the large number of Indian engineering and science students and the proliferation of Indian-born entrepreneurs are threats to U.S. workers and American competitiveness.
Some Indian leaders similarly view America’s institutions of higher education as a source of brain drain.
And despite India’s serious shortage of colleges, universities, and vocational training institutes, a number of elected officials have promoted regulations that prevent or limit the development of India-based campuses of leading U.S. institutions of higher education.
I believe this skepticism about the benefits of competition and collaboration is both short-sighted and misguided.
In today’s knowledge economy, education is a public good unconstrained by national boundaries. Innovation, manufacturing, and research and development are now borderless--to the mutual benefit of all.
The U.S.-India partnership in higher education is a good example. It has a long and storied history. The India Fulbright program was established in 1950 in a bilateral treaty signed by Prime Minister Nehru. It has benefitted more than 17,000 American and Indian students--and nearly tripled in size since President Obama and Prime Minister Singh increased funding for the Fulbright-Nehru Partnership in 2009.
The Department of State’s public diplomacy program in India and our department’s program--which teaches Hindi, Punjabi, and Indian global studies--collectively have more than 12,000 alumni between them.
International exchange programs help develop leadership. One Fulbright alumnus who studied in the United States, S.M. Krishna, recently became India’s external affairs minister. He is credited with helping turn Bangalore into India’s most celebrated technology hub.
The truth is that the U.S. has gained enormously from Indian students who come to study here as well. Over the past two decades, roughly one million Indian postsecondary students have been educated in the U.S., including more than 100,000 students last year alone.
Most of these students were enrolled in graduate programs--and three in four studied in STEM fields. Indian students contribute an estimated $3.1 billion to the U.S. economy in educational and living expenses.
They contribute even more to U.S. competitiveness in science and technology. From 1995 to 2005, fully half of the science and technology start-ups in Silicon Valley had foreign born CEOs or lead technologists. Indian immigrants found a quarter of those startups—more than immigrants from the next four nations combined, Britain, China, Taiwan, and Japan.
It’s a fundamental misreading of the knowledge economy to interpret the tremendous contribution of Indian students and entrepreneurs to America as India’s loss or brain drain. ‘Brain gain’ better captures this higher education partnership.
I say that not just because many Indian-born graduate students educated in the U.S. are now returning to India, but because the work of Indian-born U.S. entrepreneurs reaps benefits in India as well.
The high-tech revolution that Sun Microsystems co-founder Vinod Khosla helped start doesn’t stop at the U.S shoreline. And the investments that he has made in funding second-generation biofuels have the potential to reduce both India’s dependence on fossil fuels and its carbon footprint for generations to come.
As President Obama pointed out when he spoke to the Indian Parliament last year, cooperation between Indian and American scientists sparked the Green Revolution. Today, U.S. advances in weather forecasting systems are helping Indian farmers to save water, increase productivity, and limit losses from the monsoon season.
Indian born U.S. entrepreneurs like Silicon Valley’s Kanwal Rekhi are investing directly in India’s technology sector and India’s postsecondary institutions. Rekhi, for example, helped establish IIT Bombay’s new School of Information Technology.
It’s true that Apple successfully pioneered the tablet computer. But just last week, India’s education ministry announced that it is set to produce an Internet-ready tablet device for students that will cost only $50. How revolutionary could that prove?
In closing, I want to note that America and India stand to learn a lot from each other.
Too many Americans today have become complacent about our educational performance. And it wasn’t always that way.
When America was buffeted by a massive wave of immigration a century ago, parents started a grass-roots movement to create free public schools in their communities. The book Middletown, a classic sociological study of life in Indiana, reported that education then “evoke[d] the fervor of a religion, a means of salvation, among a large section of the population.”
Today, it’s India where education evokes that hunger and fervor. Today, it’s India where tens of thousands of young adults every year leave their families and communities behind. They climb on a jet plane, many for the first time. And they fly thousands of miles across the globe to a strange city and campus and culture to pursue higher education.
Today, it’s India that can teach America about how to drive rapid economic growth--and the role that education is playing as the game-changer that propels prosperity. India is reminding us anew that education is the great equalizer--the one force that can help overcome differences in background, culture, and privilege.
So, America can learn from India about how to reinvigorate our hunger for higher education. But India can benefit from America’s long experience in building a system of higher education.
In many respects, the American system of higher education is still the best in the world. Our blend of top-ranked research universities, liberal arts colleges, comprehensive state universities, and a robust community-college system provides unparalleled access to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.
All of this took time to build. And our higher education system was nurtured and shaped by far-sighted leaders and government action.
In the midst of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, creating our nation’s land grant colleges.
In the twentieth century, America adopted the tradition of research universities from Germany. But those universities thrived in the U.S. in large part because the government invested heavily in research in medicine, science, energy, and technology, and awarded research grants through a competitive peer-review process free of political interference.
America’s rapid expansion of higher education after 1945 stems from the GI Bill, which provided free tuition to war veterans. President Roosevelt signed the GI Bill during World War II, in the midst of the battle of Normandy. And in the fragile aftermath of that deadly war, President Truman helped foster the creation of our community college system.
As you can see, we all have a lot to learn from each other, to our joint benefit.
I hope you will come away from this Summit with a renewed commitment to the U.S.-India partnership in higher education. And I hope you will come away with a renewed faith that this treasured partnership is a win-win proposition for both of our nations.
Imagining the future as a contest among states vying to get larger pieces of a finite economic pie for themselves is a recipe for protectionism and global strife in the information age. Expanding educational attainment everywhere is the best way to grow the pie for all. Let this Summit advance that cause.
Learn Another Language: International Engagement Through Education: Remarks by Secretary Arne Duncan at the Council on Foreign Relations Meeting
by U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan
May 26, 2010
Thank you for inviting me to join you today. It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with this distinguished group.
I'd like to open our conversation by discussing two important trends that inform our drive to transform education in America. The first is increased international competition. The second is increased international collaboration. I'll also highlight an issue that affects our ability to compete and collaborate on the world stage—the need to increase the foreign language fluency and cultural awareness of all our students.
The President and I believe that every child in this country deserves a world-class education. We are investing unprecedented resources in education reform. It's our generation's "moonshot." It's a work of national significance, to be pursued in the 21st century with the same passion and focus as the 20th century's space race. And, like the space race, it involves a healthy rivalry with other advanced nations. I believe we can reform U.S. education and regain our lead as the world's most competitive workforce—just as decades ago we succeeded in putting a man on the moon.
We need to pursue this moonshot not only here in the United States, but across the globe. In an interconnected, competitive global economy, the only way to secure our common future is through education. It is the one true path out of poverty—the great equalizer that overcomes differences in background, culture and privilege. In the 21st century, a quality education system is the centerpiece of a country's economic development, and it can be the one thing that unites us as a world.
In this global economy, the line between domestic and international issues is increasingly blurred, with the world's economies, societies and people interconnected as never before. Thomas Friedman has observed that in today's "flat" world, new technologies and instant communications make "Beijing, Bangalore and Bethesda next-door neighbors."
The United States is a country made up of many cultures—and we often celebrate that diversity. But just as often, we rely on the predominance of English as the language of global business and higher education when looking toward the world.
This reliance can put us at a disadvantage. We haven't been compelled to meet our global neighbors on their own terms, and learn about their histories, values and viewpoints. I am worried that in this interconnected world, our country risks being disconnected from the contributions of other countries and cultures. Through education and exchange, we can become better collaborators and competitors in the global economy.
Last summer, the President spoke in Cairo, Egypt about the sweeping changes brought by modernity and globalization, and how we need to promote co-operation among people all over the world. The President said that "education and innovation will be the currency of the 21st century."
His call is what is driving our work—both here at home and in partnerships across the globe.
In the United States, we speak frequently about competition. It's the spirit of competition that drives us as a country to do better. Americans understand that the future of our country's long-term economic prospects depends on the education of our people. They know we have to educate our way to a better economy.
Today, we are not providing our students with the world-class education they deserve, and need to be successful. Roughly 27% of our students drop out of high school, and fail to graduate with their class. That's more than 7,000 every day.
Just 40% of our 25-34 year olds earn a two-year or four-year college degree—the same rate as a generation ago. Our country now ranks 10th in the rate of college completion for students in this age group.
And, on recent international tests of math literacy, our 15-year-olds scored 24th out of 29 developed nations, and 21st out of 30 nations in science. The U.S. is now 18th out of 24 industrialized nations in high school graduation rates.
Americans must work together to turn the tide and lay the foundation for a new era of innovation, growth and prosperity.
To focus our efforts, the President has set an ambitious goal. By 2020, we will once again have the world's highest proportion of college graduates. This goal appeals to the American sense of competition, and affirms the continued need for U.S. leadership in this new century. At the same time, as Dr. Jill Biden pointed out in her remarks at the 2009 UNESCO World Conference on Higher Education, "this is a competition that, if [all nations enter], we will all win."
This Administration has a cradle-to-career vision for education reform. Our plan begins with stronger early childhood programs, transitions to a world-class K-12 system, and culminates with more accessible and affordable college options, in order to prepare all Americans for fulfilling careers and engaged citizenship.
To meet the President's goal, we need to raise our national college graduation rate to roughly 60%—that's about 8 million more degrees from two-year and four-year colleges. Our education system needs revolutionary change, not evolutionary tinkering.
With $5 billion available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, we are driving reform through competition. The Race to the Top program will be rewarding states that are leading the way in education reform. So far, we have awarded grants to Tennessee and Delaware. Both states have bold plans to reform their schools with statewide buy-in from districts, union leaders, and community leaders.
We have about $3.4 billion available for the second round of grants, which we'll make later this year. We expect that states will respond to this competition with bold plans to reform their schools.
So far, the Race to the Top has been an extraordinary success. In the year since its creation, it has been a catalyst for education reform across this country, prompting states to think deeply about how to improve the way we prepare our students for success in a competitive, 21st century economy and workplace.
Likewise, the competition for our Investing in Innovation fund has driven local districts and nonprofits to present their best ideas to develop new reform efforts and expand successful ones. Earlier this month, more than 1,700 applicants submitted their proposals. Through this program, we have the potential to spread reforms across states and across the country.
The spirit of our competitive programs is driving new reforms and innovation across the country—and we know that our future rests in our ability to create powerful innovations and collaborate on behalf of all of our students.
In her remarks to this Council last July, Secretary of State Clinton noted that President Obama has challenged this nation to launch a new era of international engagement based on common interests, shared values, and mutual respect. This Administration is committed to a new paradigm of smart power for the United States, building on this country's unique strengths and the power of our example to promote universal values.
In this way, Secretary Clinton said, "We will exercise American leadership to build partnerships and solve problems that no nation can solve on its own." This view of smart power and U.S. leadership applies to the work of improving educational attainment and partnerships around the globe.
To this end, my senior staff and I work regularly with education officials in other nations. We have recently welcomed delegations from Colombia, Chile, China, India, and the Netherlands.
International collaboration cuts across nearly every office in our agency. Already this year our Undersecretary of Education led a delegation of university presidents to India, and our Deputy Secretary and Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights just traveled to Brazil to share strategies to promote excellence and equity for all students.
As we speak, Deputy Secretary Tony Miller is in Japan on a week-long visit—building on a recent trip to the U.S. by Japanese experts and educators in the science professions. His itinerary includes meetings with policymakers, governors, mayors, and foundation leaders, as well as the U.S. and Japanese Ambassadors; a town hall meeting with students from several universities; site visits to high-tech high schools; and a speech at the Ministry of Education on education for sustainable development—a key UNESCO priority connecting the energy, environmental, cultural and educational sectors.
Last year, our partnerships with other nations yielded a wide range of bilateral education conferences, alliances, and other joint efforts. For example, we are implementing the first-ever U.S.-China Joint Workplan in Education. Activities thus far include convening science education experts in Beijing, working with the higher education community to promote exchanges for study abroad, and launching sister-school partnerships among U.S. and Chinese schools. We are also moving forward on a joint U.S.-China e-language project.
We are also reaching out to the Muslim world, as the President charged us to do in his Cairo speech. Two weeks ago, during President Karzai's visit to Washington, I met with the Afghan Ministers of Education and Labor. I have held bilateral meetings with the Ambassador and Education Minister of Pakistan. I joined in a video conference with Jordan's Minister of Education.
Last month, I participated in a White House-sponsored Summit on Entrepreneurship, designed to deepen ties between business leaders, foundations, and entrepreneurs in the U.S. and in Muslim nations. Participants represented more than fifty countries on five continents. I led a wide-ranging session on youth entrepreneurship, with panelists from Pakistan, Indonesia, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates.
U.S. representatives shared lessons learned, from the need for coordination among federal agencies with related missions, to the value of community colleges in promoting pre-baccalaureate education, workforce development, adult basic education, and lifelong learning.
There's been great progress on that last point. Last June, my agency joined the State Department and U.S. AID in hosting a conference on community and technical colleges in Amman, Jordan. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Pakistan, and Jordan are among the countries working with U.S. institutions to connect education and workforce development in high-tech, high-demand fields.
I am committed to strengthening these efforts and pursuing other relationships in the Muslim world as we move forward.
All these examples suggest the great diversity of our current efforts, and the equally great potential for expansion. Such collaboration can inform and strengthen our reform efforts nationally, even as it helps improve standards of teaching and learning—and fosters understanding—internationally.
Our ultimate goal is to ensure that our children receive the world-class education they deserve. We are dedicated to providing a complete education to our students—one that covers reading, writing, mathematics and science, and one that is well-rounded with the arts, history, civics, and financial literacy. One place where American schools and the rest of American society fall short is in foreign languages.
The great Nelson Mandela has said, "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart."
Right now, we aren't teaching our students how to speak to the hearts of our neighbors around the globe.
In most countries, the expectation that students will master several languages is built into the K-12 system, and beyond. Studies project that China will soon have the world's largest English-speaking population. Some researchers argue that India has already claimed this title from us.
Great U.S. leaders like Senator J. William Fulbright have long seen the benefits of foreign language acquisition and student exchange as the gateway to cross-cultural engagement, and taken steps to promote them. Years ago, he warned, "Our linguistic and cultural myopia is losing us friends, business and respect in the world."
We must improve language learning and international education at all levels if our nation is to continue to lead in the global economy; to help bring security and stability to the world; and to build stronger and more productive ties with our neighbors.
At the K-12 level, despite the outreach activities of our programs and priorities, studies show that language programs at the elementary and middle school levels are decreasing. And while we've seen some increases in Chinese and Arabic language programs, we've seen a decline in French, German, Russian and Japanese studies at the elementary and secondary school levels.
In our proposal to reauthorize the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we are proposing a new competitive fund for a well-rounded education. This $265 million fund will support subjects our students will need to master in the interconnected global economy, including foreign language instruction. We will fund the best proposals so they will inform efforts across the country.
At the postsecondary level, we must make sure that our deans, provosts, chancellors and board members understand that international education and advanced foreign language proficiency is vital to our nation's capacity to compete, collaborate, and exert smart power. With many of our higher education institutions under financial pressure, area studies and foreign language degree programs are under threat at a time when our nation cannot afford to scale them back. We must also continue to encourage our students to study abroad.
In my department, we are taking several steps to expand the language acquisition of students of all ages. My senior staff and I have visited elementary schools, high schools; colleges and universities in California, Texas, Illinois, and the greater DC area to learn about foreign language and area studies programs and to promote the idea that we must do more.
We have a strong start in programs like our Title VI and Fulbright Hays programs, as well as other international education programs at the Departments of State and Defense. These programs support foreign language, area and international studies and infrastructure building at U.S. colleges and universities. And they ensure a steady supply of graduates with expertise in less commonly taught languages, world areas, global issues, and transnational trends.
For example, we are encouraging our National Resource Centers to strengthen ties with partner institutions in areas of the world with substantial Muslim populations. We will support and help build on innovative education efforts like the University of Hawaii's Muslim Societies in Asia and the Pacific program. And, through four-year grants awarded under our Group Projects Abroad Program, we have supported advanced intensive language study in Indonesian, through Ohio University; Turkish through Princeton University; Arabic in Egypt and Syria through the University of Texas at Austin; and Kiswahili in Tanzania through Michigan State University.
We also support innovative approaches to language learning and proficiency assessment through our network of Language Resource Centers. Just one example is the National Heritage Language Resource Center at UCLA. They sponsored their first international conference on heritage and community languages last February. The millions of heritage language speakers at varying levels of language proficiency in the U.S. represent a tremendous reserve of students and potential teachers who can put their skills to work improving our cultural understanding as well as our ability to compete, collaborate, preserve national security, and advance international peacekeeping efforts.
In short, we have never been more aware of the value of a multi-literate, multi-lingual society: a society that can appreciate all that makes other cultures and nations distinctive, even as it embraces all that they have in common.
Today, our country is engaged in a far-reaching endeavor: to uphold the values enshrined in our Constitution, and secure our place in the world, by transforming the way we teach our students.
America's success depends on the success of its individual citizens, just as the progress of humanity ultimately depends on the shared progress of nations. I believe that education has immeasurable power to promote growth and stability in the 21st century. As we work to lift America's children out of poverty and to liberate their true potential through the power of excellent teaching and learning, we will join with other nations to achieve this end for all the world's children.
Thank you, and I'll look forward to hearing your thoughts and taking your questions later in this session.