State Governments Respond to Globalization
A Shaker Heights elementary student proudly staples her addition to a Chinese-language poster. Photo courtesy the school.
State Governments Respond to Globalization
This article was written by Dorothea Howe of the Ohio State
Board of Education. Ohio was recognized for its work in
internationalizing schools in 2007, when it received the Goldman Sachs
Foundation Prize for Excellence in International Education. Here, Ms.
Howe shares Ohio's lessons learned.
If states want school districts to step out into the world,
Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Tave
Zelman suggests the state education chief create a
position within the agency to oversee international
education. “That person will have the responsibility to work
across the agency to nternationalize your curriculum
and development work, teacher quality initiatives, your
student support systems, your community
engagement strategies, and, of course, your
accountability system as well,” she advises.
“Accountability means benchmarking state strategies
against international best practice and engaging
students and schools in international assessments,
such as PISA,” she adds.
In Ohio, Donna Nesbitt leads international education at
the Ohio Department of Education, working closely with
Debbie Robinson, who leads the world languages
program and sits on the board of the National Council of State Supervisors for Foreign Languages. Here are
some of their suggestions from Ohio:
- Internationally Benchmark your State's Education System
Ohio’s leadership worked closely with Achieve, Inc., and
Sir Michael Barber of McKinsey & Co., Inc., to examine
Ohio’s K-12 education system and benchmark it against
the best practices in the world. The report, Creating a
World-Class Education System in Ohio, led to the
conclusion that Ohio had much to do to improve its
education system if its students were to compete and
collaborate in a global economy.The State Board of Education created a committee
around the priority of Education in the Global Economy
(EDGE), focusing on engaging business leaders on the
role of education in the new global economy. The ultimate
goal is to ensure that Ohio’s content standards reflect high expectations so that Ohio students can compete
- Convene an International Education Advisory Committee
In 2006, Zelman convened an International Education
Advisory Committee (IEAC), funded by the Longview
Foundation and comprising representatives from Ohio P-12 schools, college and university deans and faculty,
business and industry leaders, foundations, non-profit organizations, and state government agencies, such as
the Ohio Board of Regents (higher education) and theOhio Department of Development.
Together, they created a vision “to provide Ohioans with
the necessary knowledge, abilities and opportunities to
thrive in a global society.” The committee also developed these goals:
- Ohio citizens will understand the global context and
diversity of relationships between themselves, their
communities, and the world.
- Ohio educators will deliver global content as a
component of a world-class education and create
systems to support it.
- Students will become global thinkers with 21st-century
skills so they can think critically and creatively across
disciplines, manage complexity, embrace technology, and
- Ohio citizens will achieve greater economic prosperity
and improved quality of life.
- Hold an International Education Summit
The advisory committee sponsored an international
education summit in April 2007 featuring discussions and
presentations by educators and Ohio-based international
companies. “This meeting took the pulse of why
corporations and educators view international education
as critical,” Robinson explained. Ohio’s First Lady Frances
Strickland addressed participants. Michael Barber, coauthor
of the international benchmarking report and former
education advisor to then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair,
conversed with the audience via videoconference from
London on his findings in the Achieve report. Five regional
meetings in 2008 will also bring together business,
education, and community partnerships from different
regions in the state. This is part of the international
advisory committee’s public engagement strategy to
engage Ohioans at a grassroots level.
- Tap into Local University and Faculty Research and Programs
The state education department partners with Ohio
colleges and universities to strengthen international
education. For instance, the Chinese Flagship Program at
OSU prepares American students for China-related
careers and works with school districts to develop a pipeline of K-12 students proficient in a Chinese language. OSU’s Language Roadmap Summit in June 2007 led to a
proposal for meeting business and industry’s need for
world languages. The state department also is working
with the federal Title VI centers at state universities to
provide information and services to school districts about various regions of the world.
- Advocate for Statewide Policies and Laws to Encourage and Fund Global Education
The Ohio General Assembly called for creating a Foreign
Language Advisory Council and an Intensive Licensure
Program. The licensure program provided funds to license
native, heritage speakers of Arabic, Chinese, Japanese,
Spanish, and French to teach in Ohio schools. This
program licensed more than 200 teachers in its first two
years, in addition to the 225 licensed annually through
traditional means. To further alleviate the foreign language
teacher shortage, the State Board of Education also
created a three-year international teacher license, resulting
in 22 Chinese, one Taiwanese, and 18 Spanish teachers
sharing authentic language and culture in Ohio schools.
- Take Advantage of Federal Programs and Funding for Statewide Initiatives
Two years ago, Ohio had 11 Chinese programs serving 300
students in K-12 schools. By 2008, Ohio had more than
2,200 public school students taking Chinese in 50 programs
across the state. In 2006, Ohio was one of four states
awarded a U.S. Department of Education Foreign Language
Assistance Program (FLAP) grant to develop a K-4
Mandarin Chinese curriculum. Many Ohio districts will pilot
this elementary curriculum during the 2008 school year.
- Identify and Leverage Foundation, Community and Business Support
“It’s often easier to include international components
within existing programs than to create new ones,”
Nesbitt said. For example, Nesbitt tapped into an existing
annual student video contest for middle and high school
students created by a public television station and e-Tech Ohio, a state telecommunications network. She
suggested that the February 2009 competition include an
international category where students can explore diverse
cultures within their local communities.
Another example of an existing partnership is the Polaris
Career Center and the Karl-Schiller Berufskolleg, a
vocational business high school in Dortmund, Germany.
Since summer 2001, more than 50 German students have
come to Ohio for American business internships. Families
host German students for about three weeks, and senior
students travel to Dortmund for a similar experience.
In spring 2008, Sesame Workshop, the Ohio State
University, and the state department collaborated to
develop and pilot the use of multimedia materials to introduce Mandarin language and Chinese culture in
preschool and kindergarten. The Cleveland Foundation
and the Martha Holden Jennings Foundation funded this
Ohio’s continuing partnerships with the Asia Society’s
States Network for International Education, the Bill &
Melinda Gates Foundation, and support from business
partners, such as Procter & Gamble and Time Warner
Cable, continue to move international education forward
in the state.
- Support School Districts Through Teacher Exchanges, Pilot Programs, and Educator Trainding
To help foster international education, Ohio has
memoranda of understanding with China, Spain, and
Taiwan. China’s Hanban, the National Office for Teaching
Chinese as a Foreign Language, works with Ohio’s state
department and school districts to place volunteer
teachers in Ohio schools. “This effort brings authentic
language educators and cultures to Ohio,” Nesbitt said.
Ohio also is providing networking opportunities for
elementary school language teachers and plans a global
teacher exchange for summer 2009.
- Create a statewide Web Presence on Global Education
Hosted by Time Warner Cable and the Martha Holden
Jennings Foundation, the Think Global Ohio web site
(www.thinkglobalohio.org) features an online multimedia
toolkit that advocates for international education. This
web site includes a survey of school districts to determine
how much international education is being taught in Ohio schools. New content now is planned, including an
interactive map that will show Ohio’s business
connections to the rest of the world. Key goals of the web
site are to help schools take advantage of local resources
with international content or connections, provide more
information on available resources and assistance with
creating partnerships, and create professional
development materials and content examples across the
- Celebrate Best Practices
As they say, “Nothing begets success like success.” So,
when we find things that work, we need to talk about it. “By networking around best practices with other school
districts interested in internationalizing their curricula, we
will help build the excitement, the momentum, and the further advance of global studies,” Zelman said. “I believe through partnerships, collaboration, and a
systematic approach to international education, we can
cultivate students who will build a better world and a better humanity, for generations to come,” Zelman said.
Author: Dorothea Howe
Originally publishied in Phi Delta Kappan (November 2008). Reprinted with permission.