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  • In July-August 2011, author and New York Times op-ed columnist Thomas Friedman wrote two columns that still resound … their application timeless and universal. Both the July 2011, column “Can’t We Do This Right?” and August 2011, column Win Together or Lose Together” focus on the main issue that confronts developing and industrialized countries, today: What does a 21st Century Nation really “need to thrive in this world … ”, to achieve and maintain “greatness and sustain the … dream” for generations to come?

    In his columns, Friedman lamented that it is failure to follow a well-tested formula for national prosperity based upon a comprehensive plan that has led to … recent crises. The “Nation” to which Friedman referred is “America”.

    But, given the complexities of the issues underlying the current global crises and the maze of inter-connections that bind nations, today … the wisdom of Friedman’s words ring all too true, not just for America, but for countries, worldwide, that indeed must Win Together or Lose Together, just as Friedman cautioned …

    And, the backbone of “winning together” … of “greatness” that is achievable, maintainable and capable of “sustaining the dream” is … Global Education Transformation …

    … Friedman’s Winning Formula … 5 Pillars Of Growth:

    Friedman does not keep his readers hanging. Frequently, he returns to the main theme for “crises resolution” … to the winning formula that Friedman believes has been developed and well-tested over the course of history: Five Basic Pillars Of Growth. The Pillars are significant; they’re worth careful consideration by every country that wants not merely to compete … but also to excel among the Global Economy competition.

    Friedman’s Five Basic Pillars Of Growth:

    1). Education: To compete and excel among the Global Economy competition, a country needs a well-educated population that acquires the knowledge and skills needed to meet and exceed current technology demands …

    2). Infrastructure: Especially in this 21st Century, a country must build a strong infrastructure of roads, entry ports … and telecommunications that can sustain commerce and security requirements …

    3). Immigration: For every country, long-term, sustainable growth and development have always required the important, symbiotic relationship between talented immigrants and host countries with the ability to offer a strong educational infrastructure and entrepreneurial opportunities. What has become illusive over these many decades is an immigration policy that provides both the opportunities, flexibility and security needed to sustain such an important relationship.

    4). Incentivized Entrepreneurship: To achieve long-term, sustainable economic growth and development, a healthy GNP-GDP requires an economic environment with balance between regulations that provide incentives for seedfunding and ownership investment yet curb reckless risk-taking by creditors and debtors. To achieve such balance requires the collaborative efforts and talents of private-public partnerships.

    5). Science Research: Here, too, balance and the collaborative efforts of private-public partnerships are needed. To achieve and maintain greatness and sustain long-term economic growth and development, a country must invest in science research that expands the boundaries of what is possible, today … in every area touched by scienceengineering, technology, medicine, business and education. But the public-sector seed funding must be prudently invested under the aegis of well-developed business and implementation plans authored by private-public partnerships. Thereafter, long-term working capital and a sustainable consumer base must come from the private sector.

    … Backbone Of The Winning Formula → Strong Education Infrastructure, K-12→College→Career:

    A close look at Friedman’s Five Pillars of Growth – Winning Formula leads to one, incontrovertible conclusion: None of the Five Pillars is possible … and therefore achievable, maintainable national greatness with sustainable economic growth and development are simply not possible … without a strong education infrastructure. It is not happenstance that Friedman’s First Pillar is Education. However you analyze Friedman’s Formula … Pillars 2, 3, 4 and 5 [infrastructure, talented immigrants, incentivized entrepreneurship, and science research] all depend upon a strong Pillar 1 – Education. And, the “Education” of Pillar 1 that Friedman addresses … “educating the work force up to and beyond whatever technology demands” … requires a strong education infrastructure, K-12→College→Career, to assure that every student, at every grade level, at every public school both attains and can apply 21st Century Skills with proficiency, K-12→College→Career …

    … Backbone Of A Strong Education Infrastructure → Global Education Transformation:

    The backbone a strong education infrastructure … indeed the backbone of any winning formula for long-term, sustainable economic growth and national greatness that enables a country to compete and excel among the Global Economy competition … is Global Education Transformation.

    Education Transformation … The national security and sovereignty of each country ultimately depends upon its ability to train a well-educated population that can meet the rigors and challenges of university/college coursework and a highly competitive Global Economy workforce. Every nation also needs a well-education population to understand the complexities of international crises and select leaders who have the knowledge, experience and skills needed to work collaboratively to resolve the crises and avert their recurrence. That such a 21st Century education requires changes in the pedagogy and delivery of public school education has reached nearly global consensus.

    Global Education Transformation … Given the complexities and inter-connections of the global financial, economic and political crises and the commercial inter-dependency among economies of the world, today … the GNP, national sovereignty and security of every country also depend upon other countries have well-education populations, in addition to the population of the home country. Friedman acknowledged the special factors of the “world we live in” raised by a “hyperconnected world intensified by globalization and outsourcing, the challenges of energy and climate and the growing automation of the work space that is rapidly increasing productivity with fewer workers”.

    Even if it were possible for any country to disentangle completely from the maze of international debt ownership and credit default swaps that shape the Global Economy … ultimately, it would spell economic if not political doom. Because global markets, international investors and multinational alliances are needed for each country’s national prosperity and security; and because there are strong, emerging countries with billions of people in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Africa and other areas that would be very willing to step in and fill any void.

    Friedman wrote it succinctly … and correctly: Win Together or Lose Together“. And the backbone for “winning together” … the backbone of Friedman’s five basic pillars of growth and prosperity for national greatness that sustains the dream … is Global Education Transformation …

    … Delivery Of Global Education Transformation:

    Systemic, scalable, sustainable Global Education Transformation is not a mystery. It is not illusive. Global Education Transformation requires the three deliverables for every public school, K-12→College→Career: the best educators, best OER content, and best students’ applied-learning programs.

    In turn, Global Education Transformation with its three deliverables has 3 strong anchors. Since 2008, The Ford Program-GEI Project has referred to these anchors as the 3 Pillars Of Education Transformation.

    Each of the 3 Pillars Of Education stands on a strong track record of success. But, all 3 Pillars Of Education, collectively, are required to anchor and deliver transformative education to all public schools, K-12→College→Career:

    Pillar I — Teachers-As-Education Coaches’ Training, to provide core subject matter and 21st Century Skills’ training by leading local, national and international educators, with mentoring and follow up for all teachers … both in-service and pre-service; and

    Pillar II — 21st Century MultiMedia eLibrary, to deliver the best OER and other content and best local, national and international teachers, on demand, at the finger tips of all teachers and students; and

    Pillar III — Students’ STEM Applied-Learning iLAB Training, to close the K-12→College education gaps by extending classroom learning and enabling students to collaborate and apply STEM skills to real-world science and engineering issues challenging the 21st Century Global Economy.

    3 Pillars Of Education

    It is these 3 Pillars Of Education Transformation, collectively … not individually … which form the backbone of long-term economic growth and development, national sovereignty and security, and which enable every country not just to compete … but also to excel among the Global Economy competition. It is these 3 Pillars Of Education Transformation, together, which form the backbone of Friedman’s Five Pillars of Growth and the backbone of national prosperity that … “keeps the dream alive”.

    And, equally significant, these 3 Pillars Of Education Transformation are achievable, deliverable, and sustainable, today … for every public school, worldwide, K-12→College→Career. See also, “Supporting Data Technology Templates”

    … What, Then Is The Problem:

    There is no quick fix. That’s the facile answer. The challenges are many and they are complex. Great results can be achieved in 3-5 years … if we start, now, with the right tools that are available, now. And, starting now does not mean “more money now“. It does not mean “more technology now“. More money now will not result in Global Education Transformation. More technology alone cannot bring about Global Education Transformation. Funding and technology are both important but finite tools that must be wisely invested in transformative education that is systemic, scalable, and sustainable … and which assures that every student, at every grade level, at every public school attains and can apply 21st Century Skills with proficiency …

    … What’s Needed:

    Delivery of education transformation is needed for all public schools, K-12→College→Career, and requires systemic, scalable and sustainable plans … with disciplined grant independency … and consistent local, national and international “cooperation” …

    1). Comprehensive Business Plan With Incremental Implementation Plans … For each country, transformative education requires a business plan with incremental implementation plan(s). The guidelines and blueprints exist … from the brilliant 1956 Bloom’s Taxonomy Learning Domains to the 2010 MultiMedia Global Education Transformation Business and Implementation Plan Templates developed collaboratively by international grassroots educators and The Ford Program-GEI Project. Other strong models also exist.

    One size won’t fit all. But a sound fiscal business plan that delivers the 3 Pillars Of Education customized by grassroots’ education stakeholders to meet the regional and local needs of public school teachers and students … with implementation plans that reflect realistic progress over 12-18 month increments … are all doable, today … now.

    What is Your Country’s Education Transformation Plan …

    To Deliver, Now …

    the Best Educators …

    the Best OER Content …

    & …

    the Best Students’ STEM Applied-Learning Programs …

    for Every Public School, K-12→College→Career …

    2). Education ReValuation Without Grant Dependency … It’s been vocalized and debated for decades on end. Education must be revalued with teaching regarded and treated as the valuable, indispensable profession that it is … that it always has been.

    But, while the compensated value for teachers must appreciate … education transformation must not be dependent on grant funding, or it will surely fail. Worldwide, trillions of dollars have been spent during the last few decades, alone … but without commensurate improvements in public school education and student achievements for all but a handful of countries.

    3). The Deliverables … If education transformation becomes grant dependent … then it will end with the last dollar of the last grant funding … long before the deliverables of systemic, scalable and sustainable transformative education are in place: the best educators, best OER content, and best students’ applied-learning programs for every public school, K-12→College→Career.

    There are many high quality OER content materials as well as open source and other technology assets available either gratis or at very little cost. Education transformation requires “sweat equity” with a moratorium on more funding while countries, regions and states take a close, thorough inventory of the education assets now available and funders work collaboratively with education stakeholders to provide “wise education investments” in comprehensive education transformation business and implementation plans that can deliver systemic, scalable, sustainable returns: the assurance that every student, at every grade level, at every public school both attains and can apply 21st Century Skills with proficiency.

    “Win Together … Lose Together” … Like it or not, we really are in this together. As with most important 21st Century challenges, education transformation requires collaborative efforts of public-private partnerships that include the business, academic, and parental groups of stakeholders working together … locally, nationally and internationally. Education transformation also requires cooperation that transcends politics, polemics, and partisanship. States and regions within individual countries must work together to develop and implement fiscally sound education transformation business and implementation plans. And countries, worldwide, need to take advantage of the great potential of STEM applied-learning education programs for strengthening international alliances peer-to-peer along the continuum of students, teachers, schools, parents and officials, K-12→College→Career.

    If we don’t work together, we all lose and indeed we “lose together” … for poverty has long been a stark ambassador of globalism. As the decades of the 20th Century clearly showed, pockets of poverty neither know nor respect economic, social, geographic or national boundaries. And pockets of poverty lead to dire consequences with lost opportunities and unfulfilled dreams that frustrate and depress the economies of countries and the lives of human beings. We are all in this together … we “win or lose together” …

     Can’t We Do This Right? Friedman Wrote:

    Yes, absolutely we can. The high quality academic assets are many and they are available, worldwide. Education transformation requires sublimation of egos, pride and nationalism to avail and use the assets wisely … in the best interests of all public school students, worldwide … who are the greatest of all possible assets and our next generation leaders 

    The more haunting question, then, really is … Will We Do This Right? Because now is the time … because it’s needed … because it’s the right thing to do … now.

    The Ford Program

    … is committed to help close persistent education gaps in public schools, worldwide, K-12→College→Career.

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