February 15, 2013 by

Education for the 21st Century: Creating a Climate of Success for All Students

Freeman Hrabowski, Annual Conference 2013 session preview

ASCD’s 68th Annual Conference and Exhibit Show features more than 400 sessions on some of the most important topics in education. Built on the theme, “Learning: Our Story. Our Time. Our Future.,” the Annual Conference and Exhibit Show will be held March 16–18, at McCormick Place in Chicago, Ill., and will inform, engage, help, and challenge educators from across the globe to better support student success. Below we hear from President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and annual conference presenter, Freeman A. Hrabowski III, whose session, “Education for the 21st Century: Creating a Climate of Success for All Students,” will be held on Saturday, March 16, from 10 to 11:45 a.m.

It should be encouraging to educators that the nation is increasingly focused on the question of how we educate more of our citizens. There’s broad understanding that our ability to compete globally depends on our success in preparing students for a wide range of careers. Unlike 50 years ago, the nation recognizes today that more countries than ever are focusing on preparing well-educated workforces.

Nevertheless, too few Americans understand just how daunting our challenge is. Countries around the world, particularly China and India, are moving rapidly to become the best educated. The diversity of the America’s population has been a strength, particularly in encouraging creativity and innovation throughout the 20th century as groups migrated to this country. The nation is becoming more diverse than ever — more than half of the children born in America today are from minority backgrounds. Unfortunately, large numbers of underrepresented minorities are not performing well in school. The achievement gap is more troubling than ever.

Increasingly, competing in the global marketplace will require skill in science and technology, and yet America has fallen considerably behind competing nations in producing students who excel in these disciplines. In responding to this challenge, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) has become a model for innovation and inclusive excellence across disciplines, including the STEM fields. At the ASCD Conference in March, I will be discussing our efforts that have transformed our campus culture and produced exemplary academic programs, including the Meyerhoff Scholars Program for talented students of all backgrounds interested in STEM research careers and diversity, and the Center for Women in Information Technology. I will be emphasizing the important role that all of us must play as leaders in setting a tone that encourages creativity and support, and establishes high standards for all students. (This white paper, published by the McGraw-Hill Research Foundation, provides detail on these and other UMBC initiatives involving innovation and collaboration.)

Freeman A. Hrabowski IIIFreeman A. Hrabowski, III, has served as President of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) since 1992. His research and publications focus on science and math education, with special emphasis on minority participation and performance. In 2012, he was named by TIME magazine as one of the “100 Most Influential People in the World,” and he also received the Heinz Award for his contributions to improving the “Human Condition” and was among the inaugural inductees into the U.S. News & World Report STEM Solutions Leadership Hall of Fame. He received TIAA-CREF’s Theodore M. Hesburgh Award for Leadership Excellence and the Carnegie Corporation’s Academic Leadership Award in 2011. He chaired the recent National Academies’ committee that produced the report, Expanding Underrepresented Minority Participation: America’s Science and Technology Talent at the Crossroads. He also was recently named by President Obama to chair the newly created President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for African Americans. He and UMBC were recently featured on CBS’s 60 Minutes, attracting national attention for the campus’s achievements involving innovation and inclusive excellence.