Globalization of the economy, increasingly diverse and interconnected populations, and rapid technological change are posing new and demanding challenges to individuals and societies alike. School systems are rethinking the knowledge and skills students will need for success and the educational strategies and systems required for all children to achieve them. In both Asia and North America, urban school systems are at the locus of change in policy and practice—at once the sites of the most critical challenges in education and the engines of innovation needed to address them.
Asia Society organized the Global Cities Education Network, a network of urban school systems in North America and Asia to focus on challenges and opportunities for improvement common to them, and to virtually all city education systems. A critical element of high-performing school systems is that they not only benchmark the practices of other countries, but they systematically adapt and implement these practices within their own cultural and political contexts. The Global Cities Education Network is intended as a mechanism for educators and decision-makers in Asia and North America to collaboratively dream, design, and deliver internationally informed solutions to common challenges with which education systems are currently grappling.
The Network engages in cycles of in-depth inquiry, planning, and action to address specific topics related to the themes of transforming learning and achieving equity. Each cycle involves knowledge sharing and problem solving, including at Global Cities Education Network Symposia and the production of research and knowledge products such as case studies, background papers, and meeting reports. The overarching goal is to develop practical wisdom from the research and experience of the world’s leading experts which reflects proven or promising efforts in Network cities, that can be used to enhance the effectiveness of Network and city school systems world wide.
The first meeting of the Global Cities Education Network took place in Hong Kong in May 2012 and the second meeting convened in Seattle in January 2013 included participating cities: Chicago, Denver, Hong Kong, Melbourne, Seattle, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore, and Toronto. Also participating was the EdVisions school network of primarily urban schools operating across several U.S. states.
Participants identified several common, high-priority problems of practice and agreed to initially focus on two: the need to develop and sustain a high-quality teaching force, and the need to improve educational outcomes for low performing and linguistically and culturally diverse students.