Rockefeller Discusses the Need for a 21st Century Education

August 30, 2007


Washington, DC – Following the start of the school year, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., today met with a group of students and teachers from the Horace Mann Middle School in Charleston to discuss the importance of developing a new 21st century curriculum to better prepare graduates for the more technology-based work force.


Earlier this year, Rockefeller introduced legislation to create the 21st Century Skill Incentive Fund Act, which would provide matching funds to states that offer students curriculum options beyond the core requirements outlined in the No Child Left Behind Act. The bill would appropriate $100 million a year to the U.S. Department of Education to administer matching grants to states that integrate courses in the following subjects at their schools: global awareness; financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy; civic literacy; and health and wellness awareness.


“It’s not enough for West Virginia students to master the three R's anymore – reading, writing and arithmetic. They also must have the critical thinking and problem solving skills to compete for jobs in an increasingly technologically driven society,” Rockefeller said. “The 21st Century Skill Incentive Fund is a win-win for schools and for businesses.  By creating partnerships between schools and corporations, we can ensure that the next generation of West Virginia’s work force is better prepared to succeed in the work force and college classrooms.”


In March, state Superintendent Dr. Steve Paine, a long-time supporter of the 21st Century Skills Partnership, testified before the Senate Finance Committee on the success that West Virginia has experienced.


“The West Virginia Department of Education’s 21st Century Learning initiative along with Senator Rockefeller’s efforts on the federal level will help prepare students for the future instead of the past,” Paine said.


Similar 21st century skills programs are already in place in North Carolina, Maine, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. The Rockefeller legislation is supported by a broad coalition of national education organizations and technology firms.


Sen. Rockefeller has been a long-time advocate for increasing technology education and access in West Virginia schools. Ten years ago, he co-authored the E-Rate program, which provides schools and libraries with discounted access to the Internet.  During the last decade, the number of schools connected to the Internet has grown from 14 percent to 92 percent nationwide; during that same time, the number of least affluent schools online has grown from 5 percent to 89 percent.




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