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Education advocacy to increase 21st Century Learning and future preparedness of Fort Mill students.

  • Writer's pictureKaren Reilly

Race to College? What about The Future?

Updated: Feb 25, 2019's that time!

2nd semester with a high school junior! A time filled with college visits, SAT and ACT test prep and SAT and ACT exams, letters from SAT test prep tutors offering to raise my daughter’s score HUNDREDS of points if we’re willing to sacrifice HUNDREDS of $$ we need to actually PAY for college and she’s willing to sacrifice a few more of the very limited hours she has left outside of school that’s not already taken up by homework, dance, work and more homework. #lifebalance

But right now…and well, the past 3 years, that’s what it’s all been about…for the most part. This race to college!

Call me a bad mom (and I’m sure some have) but I’ve been distracted in this race. In fact, I’ve had a hard time focusing on college AT ALL! Maybe I’m in denial. I mean…HOW did we get here? THIS was YESTERDAY…

They told us it would go fast and we didn’t believe them!! :(

Or…is it also because my mind keeps drifting to after college? What about then? After ALL the $$ and focus and energy and STRESS getting INTO college, do we really know that college will be enough to get her INTO the jobs waiting for her when she gets out?

If there’s anything 3 years of research, reading, talking to A LOT of people in education and business and Deloitte’s take on the New Realities of Work have taught me…probably not.

A recent global study that included interviews with 25,000 employers found that 9 out of 10 employees believed that colleges were NOT adequately preparing students for the workplace and new hires around the world lacked collaborative and interpersonal skills, the ability to deal with ambiguity, flexibility and professionalism.

I went to a CMS School Mobility Forum this past fall hosted by the principal of Olympic High School. We watched Ted Dintersmith's film Most Likely to Succeed and then participated in a community conversation led by a panel that included Ted Dintersmith, CMS Superintendent Dr. Clayton Wilcox, and other district, business and policy leaders.

Here were my biggest takeaways from the film and forum…

- “Students who only know how to perform well in today’s education system—get good grades and test scores, and earn degrees—will no longer be those who are most likely to succeed. Thriving in the twenty-first century will require real competencies, far more than academic credentials.” ― Tony Wagner, Most Likely to Succeed: Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era
“The kids we have coming in with the highest test scores and grades aren’t the smartest kids. They usually don’t know how to work well with others and can’t think outside the box.”-Google Exec.

- Deloitte published their global Human Capital Report with 61% of companies redesigning jobs around AI and robotics.

- Our current education model has not changed for 145 years and we are ONLY getting better at doing the WRONG THINGS! A curriculum designed around standardized tests teach a very small set of skills that are not valued anymore.

“I don’t care about state assessments! Our job as a district is to prepare our kids for a world that doesn’t exist yet.” – Dr. Clayton Wilcox, CMS Superintendent.

All of this leaves me pretty unsettled as a parent of a high school junior looking at colleges with hefty tuition price tags that will take at least a lifetime for her to pay off IF, and only IF, she’s employable enough to maintain a steady average salary which is unrealistic in today’s economy, even with the best skills.

So WHY aren’t we talking more about preparing our kids, not just for college but their FUTURES?

A new future that will require SO MUCH MORE than 1600 on the SAT and a top 5 in the High School ranking, and a 4.6 GPA or a Valedictorian title or a sports or academic scholarship or even graduating honors from an Ivy League school!

A new reality where a 4-year degree just isn’t enough to cut it anymore. And maybe that's good news for kids who need and choose a different path.

And some more good news? Colleges are beginning to catch on to this new reality too. They’re starting to ask the same questions. Are they doing enough to prepare our kids with the skills they will need for tomorrow’s more innovative workforce?

But back to this race to college in Fort Mill. How do we get off of it and start thinking more holistically about preparing our kids for this fast-changing new global


How do we go from 21st Century Learning/STEAM as a Related Arts class, fun holiday activity or expensive summer camp option to the EVERY day experience in ALL our classrooms where instead of SO MANY standardized tests, the focus is on CRITICAL THINKING, CREATIVITY, COMMUNICATION and COLLABORATION in school cultures that EMPOWER and rely on the talent and unlimited potential of our educators and our kids...every day! #FM21STEAM

Like what we’re now seeing in districts all around us within our state, across our country and around the world! An education that we as a school community have a moral obligation to provide this generation of kids and our own state is demanding that we do. #TransformSC

"South Carolina is competing for job creation in a global economy where 85% of jobs will require education beyond high school and a workforce with 21st century knowledge and skills. America’s education system is badly outdated and cannot produce the results our students deserve and their future employers need. South Carolina must radically change its PK-12 system to dramatically increase the number of students graduating ready for career and college without remediation and with globally recognized knowledge certifications." -SC Innovation Initiative Steering Committee Report 2012

Because these are OUR KIDS. And this is THEIR FUTURE!

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