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  • Leaders Discuss Importance of “4 C’s” in 21st Century Learning

    Posted by P.I.E. | November 3, 2011

    On September 1st 2011, Partnership for Innovation in Education sponsored the Education & Community Forum, “Prepared to Work: Defining ‘Career Ready’ in the 21st Century” in Cincinnati Ohio at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce.*

    Leading professionals in Cincinnati education, business and government community took part in this forum, to discuss the importance of the “4 C’s” (Creativity, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, Communication) in education and 21st Century Learning. Forum participants included:

    • Dr. John Box, Sr. VP of Junior Achievement
    • Dr. Jay Kayne, Miami University Cintas Chair for Entrepreneurship
    • Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls
    • Assistant CPS Superintendent Dr. Anthony Smith
    • Associate UC Dean Dr. Nelson Vincent and;
    • Crystal Faulkner, Founder of Accounting for Kids program

    As demonstrated in the videos below, the speakers and panelists discussed how community and business partners are introducing “career readiness” learning opportunities into the education sector, primarily in K-12 public schools.

    Cincinnati Enquirer Reporter Krista Ramsey, moderated this event, while Project Socialize, LLC demonstrated the practical integration of digital technologies by providing live event coverage via Twitter, a social media network. To further demonstrate to educators and community leaders the widespread usage and importance of Internet technologies, Forum video segments were taped, edited and produced by Milford High School students. These segments have been posted on multiple social media networks like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and Blogs.




    *Partnership for Innovation in Education ( would like to thank the event co-sponsors including Enquirer Media, Lykins Industries, Cincinnati Public Schools, Junior Achievement USA, Franklin Covey, WNKU-FM “BusinessWise”, Miami University, University of Cincinnati, Milford School District, Winton Woods School District, Princeton School District and Cooney Faulkner Stevens LLC.

  • Mary Discusses “Career Readiness” during BusinessWise Interview

    Posted by P.I.E. | September 13, 2011

    “Listen to Mary discuss how teaching “career readiness” guides schools as they prepare kids for college, trade school and working life. From discussing the “dilution effect” of the college degree, to ways State Core Curriculum Standards are demanding the importance of teaching the 4 C’s (creativity, collaboration, critical thinking skills, and communication), Mary relates how quality schools are the key to regional economic development.

    Mary also discusses the September 1st Forum that highlighted keynotes Dr. Jay Kayne (Entrepreneurship Chair, Farmer School of Business, Miami University) and Dr. John Box (Sr. VP of Junior Achievement USA). Each speaker discussed ways to teach entrepreneurship to kids, and how such a curriculum was pivotal to creating “engines of growth” in the United States. “

    BusinessWise Interview with Crystal and Tom

  • Prepared to Work: Defining ‘Career Ready’ in the 21st Century

    Posted by P.I.E. | August 30, 2011

    Why should American students have any interest in learning “career ready” skills? Join the education, business, and government communities to discover why preparing kids for 21st century jobs will spur economic development and create a vibrant economy.

    The Association for Career and Technical Education defined career readiness and divided into three major skill areas:  1) Core academic skills and the ability to apply those skills to concrete situations in order to function in the workplace and in routine daily activities.  2) Employability skills (such as critical thinking and responsibility) are essential in any career area; and 3) Technical, job-specific skills related to a specific career pathway.

    These skills have been emphasized across numerous pieces of research and allow students to enter true career pathways that offer family-sustaining wages and opportunities for advancement.  Click HERE to read the Association for Career and Technical Education research study.

    Partnership for Innovation in Education invites you to attend the upcoming Forum, “Prepared to Work:  Defining Career Readiness for the 21st Century” on September 1, 2011 at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce (441 Vine Street) from 4-6pm.  During the Forum we will…

    Define “Career Readiness” in 2011;
    Review the newest trends in creating opportunities for students graduating into a highly competitive and tech-savvy global workforce.
    Address the differences between the skills of yesterday and the 21st century skills needed today.

    Join this spirited discussion with keynote speakers, Dr. John Box, Senior VP at Junior Achievement USA and Dr. Jay Kayne, Entrepreneurship Chair at Miami University’s Farmer School of Business.  Regional panelists include Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls, UC Associate Dean Dr. Nelson Vincent, Accounting for Kids Founder Crystal Faulkner, and Assistant CPS Superintendent Dr. Anthony Smith. Cincinnati Enquirer Columnist Krista Ramsey will moderate this event.

    Register for the P.I.E. Community Forum today!

  • Students Are Demanding Real-World Learning

    Posted by P.I.E. | May 18, 2011

    Reprint of article originally posted on April 28, 2011 in the Cincinnati Enquirer and Cincinnati Enquirer: Community Press and Recorder.

    Mary Welsh Schlueter - Partnership for Innovation in Education

    Mary Welsh Schlueter, PIE Founder and Chief Executive

    Although William and Kate aren’t corporate business leaders, events such as their Gen Y marriage are great tools to teach enterprise to American students.

    In this case, I encourage students to think beyond the British pomp and circumstance of today’s royal wedding, and instead to uncover how history and enterprise shaped the United States. We discuss colonial history, religious tyranny and “taxation without representation” while we also conquer economics, profit-loss ratios and budgets.

    I use Kate and William’s nuptials as a critical thinking exercise, and I offer my students a chance to become future business royalty all on their own.

    Itemizing costs, weighing options and meeting deadlines are critical thinking tools some schools are trying to introduce in the classroom. Called “project-based” learning, kids are taught subjects using an interdisciplinary curriculum mimicking real world business frameworks.

    Why would schools introduce business skills into their curriculum? Because today’s high school students are demanding it. National public high school research indicates students rank “Prepare me for the future” as their No. 1 demand. With statistics indicating Americans are under-prepared for a competitive global job market, students – and state governments – are understandably worried.

    Schools are now being called to integrate curriculums with the 4Cs – Collaboration, Communication, Creativity and Critical Thinking – touted as “21st-century skills.” But such a directive requires aggressive overhauls of teacher education and school technology upgrades. Some states are helping: University of Virginia offers school administrator training sessions with its business school faculty, and the Ohio legislature mandated teaching financial literacy in public schools. But it isn’t enough. And business leaders know it.

    Robert Sommers, director of the Ohio Governor’s Office of 21st Century Education, suggested schools need an entirely different model where teacher performance, test results and costs are customized and tied directly to each student – with business partnerships offering incremental real-world opportunities.

    Princeton High School Principal William Sprankles encourages student-centered business partnerships among his educators and staff. Sprankles noted “the irony of schools is that we are locked inside our classrooms while a community demands we be competitive outside. Teachers aren’t working in the business arena. How can we teach what we don’t know?”

    U.S. education colleges aren’t helping much. Education historians contend that technology has been making the 1950s production-line education model obsolete. However, universities offering education degrees continue to teach curriculums where data is “injected” into test-weary students and memorization is rewarded.

    Despite significant education revenue investments, the Gates Foundation reports student performance has stagnated over the past 30 years, and a new framework must be explored.

    I suggest we offer a project-based model within selective schools on a “teacher-ready” basis. Project-based learning (PBL) demands more up-front work, and recruiting tech-savvy and innovative teachers determines the model’s success. Data suggests PBL offers a better-prepared workforce, as evidenced by New Tech Network’s first public school in Napa, California where over 98 percent of all kids graduate against a 68 percent national norm.

    Clearly, “business-ready” is becoming a viable student outcome.

  • Cutting Loose the Golden Goose

    Posted by P.I.E. | April 14, 2011

    Partnership for Innovation in Education

    Mary Welsh Schlueter, PIE Founder and Chief Executive

    Reprint of article originally posted on March 23, 2011 in the Cincinnati Enquirer and  April 6, 2011 in the Enquirer: Community Press and Recorder.

    Golden goose, cash cow or thrifty shrew?  We aren’t talking team mascots, but the current financial strategies facing school districts across the nation.  With the recent announcement that Ohio public school districts must cut 15% of their annual budgets, school boards and their financial officers must gauge what programs — and personnel — get cut.

    In light of these reductions, the Oakley and Hyde Park Community Council Executives appeared before the Cincinnati Public School Board and asked the Hyde Park School be re-opened for active enrollment.   Faced with overcrowding at top-rated Kilgour Elementary School, hundreds of young and expectant parents came to the meeting armed with enrollment forms and revenue data indicating the cost savings of such a proposal. They received a tepid response from board members.

    Of course, some say 2011-2012 budget shortfalls will preclude re-opening the school.  Yet financially, the Hyde Park “East Side” School is projected to pay for itself within the first few years of operation.  The school would eliminate a portion of student voucher expenditures ($70M annual CPS cost), and serve as an attractive asset in real estate development.  Gates Foundation and Harvard University studies indicate a healthy school encourages neighborhood investment and economic development—resulting in higher city tax revenues.  Great schools attract attention.  In fact, as other neighborhood CPS schools continue to lose students, the Kilgour student population has increased by 43%!

    Dubbed the “golden goose” by Hyde Park Council member and resident Carl Uebelacker, the eastern corridor (Oakley, Hyde Park, Mt. Lookout, East Walnut Hills, O’Bryonville) already offers upscale and reliable tax revenue.  However, studies indicate as fewer high-quality school options become available, increasing numbers of young professional families will leave the city and terminate a reliable revenue stream.   CPS has already noted a 10% decrease in student enrollment, identical to the Cincinnati population reduction cited by the U.S. Census.

    With the unparalleled amount of corporate money spent on attracting and retaining young talent, why do we throw away such efforts when our youngest professionals decide to have families?  Clearly, urban flight hurts cities, drains talent and decreases financial stability.  And without a younger talent pool, innovation, dynamism and a sense of entrepreneurship fades into tired complacency.

    Confronted by budget shortfalls, public observers will view how urban school executives value, interpret and implement innovation.  For instance, “cutting loose the goose” and offering the Hyde Park school as a public charter or neighborhood magnet may satisfy a committed group of parents interested in creating new opportunities for kids.  Releasing the school might prove an unthinkable act for some education leaders, but a welcome and financially expedient change for others.

    No longer willing to be labeled “cash cows” or “thrifty shrews”, parents are changing the power dynamic of school relationships as they create partnerships with community organizations, independent school executives and business leaders.   They know the future isn’t some abstract concept  — it resides in the neighborhood school just down the street.   When used wisely, let’s hope their “golden” energy infects entire communities, and serves as an example we can all follow.

  • Tap Young Teachers For Innovation In Schools

    Posted by P.I.E. | March 10, 2011

    Partnership for Innovation in Education

    Mary Welsh Schlueter, PIE Founder and Chief Executive

    Giggling babies, toddlers playing on carpeted steps, and fidgeting parents waiting their turn at the microphone. It’s not the typical crowd waiting to speak at CPS Board of Education meetings. But with schools fighting for more space, or debating admissions procedures, the Burnet auditorium has been seeing increasing numbers of young professionals who have the future – literally – sitting in their laps.

    As a parent of young public school children, I know individuals born after 1980 (Gen Y) bring dynamism and impatience to education debates. With emotional and financial commitment to their schools and neighborhoods, they demand accountability and transparency. Those that cannot find such traits, choose to move elsewhere.

    But urban school districts desperately need valuable Generation Y advocates. And not only as mentors and volunteers – we need the same entrepreneurial commitment in our classroom teachers.

    However, younger teachers are getting buried in no-win situations throughout American school districts. For instance, LIFO (Last In-First Out) has become a hot topic within the recent collective bargaining debates in Wisconsin and Ohio. Teacher seniority guidelines typically place young, tech-savvy and technology-trained teachers into high poverty, low performing schools with little training to deal with poverty, homelessness, hunger, and parental neglect. Author Diane Ravitch indicates 50 percent of newly minted teachers “jump ship” within five years. Clearly, dumping Gen Y teachers into sink-or-swim assignments isn’t beneficial.

    Michelle Rhee, former DC Schools chancellor, states the LIFO rule is a contractual collective bargaining provision that “makes absolutely no sense for children.” Which begs the question: Why are we placing young, tech-savvy teachers into no-win situations?

    Instead, shouldn’t we be piggybacking their distinct communication, media and digital knowledge to create a new educational perspective? In fact, why couldn’t our Gen Y brethren further establish a new entrepreneurial reality by spawning new learning tools and opportunities like American legends Andrew Carnegie, Nelson Rockefeller, and Steve Jobs?

    How do create win-win solutions for our youngest — and eldest — teachers? I support pay for performance measures. Some union contracts are now calling for 10-15% of teacher compensation to be drawn from hitting benchmarks based on individual student academic growth. It’s not a perfect solution, but we can get an idea of teacher competency and skill based on select performance measures.

    Bottom line, we need to coax innovation from everyone. What better way to “think outside the box” than to introduce a different box? Maybe it’s not a box at all. Why not ask our youngest educators to suggest ways to improve their teaching situation, and create a district-wide or regional innovation roundtable filled with our most capable, youngest educators.

    Let’s be entrepreneurial now. Watch our impatient young teachers work some magic. Opportunity can’t wait.

    Reprint of article originally published by The Cincinnati Enquirer via on March 1, 2011.

  • Education Demands Innovation

    Posted by P.I.E. | February 16, 2011

    Partnership for Innovation in Education

    Mary Welsh Schlueter, PIE Founder and Chief Executive

    It seems fitting on the morning of former Cincinnati Vice Mayor David Crowley’s funeral, a group of elected officials and education advocates met at City Hall to discuss education funding in southwestern Ohio.   As a passionate education advocate, Crowley would have been pleased at the lack of partisan politics during a working session convened by City Councilmember Laure Quinlivan.

    Education reform has become the new “It “ word among cash-strapped states like Ohio.  Impending budget shortfalls have created a new reality as staffing levels decrease, technology needs increase, and 21st century “4 C” core curriculums (creativity, critical thinking, collaboration, communication) are mandated. For most districts, superintendents must create more opportunities with fewer resources.  But how much fewer?  The answer depends on a calculus of demographics, income levels and school population.

    With an $8B budget deficit to plug, Ohio Governor Kasich will demand everyone tighten his or her belt.   And it’s not like Ohio has been shortchanging its youngest citizens over the past 20 years.  Since 1991, Ohio has fully supported its public school communities.  For instance, public school employee levels have increased by 35%, while public school enrollment has remained stagnant (-0.6%).  And since 1997, per pupil spending has increased by an inflation-adjusted 60%.

    Yet schools have changed too. Serving as community centers and neighborhood hubs, schools represent increasingly diversified student populations, requiring more individualized attention.  As community partners call for more workforce readiness measures, schools are forced to offer varying curriculums addressing changing needs.  Such measures cost money.  But as any business can attest, tailoring services to each consumer yields better results and higher satisfaction.  And isn’t academic achievement, college/career readiness, and healthy economic development the goal for any community determined to thrive?

    By March 15th, Ohio citizens will get their first glimpse of how the Governor may deliver education cuts.  The Ohio Assembly has already determined some of the strategic cuts by introducing legislation that would eliminate professional “step” raises and collective bargaining for unions.  Let’s hope further changes won’t compromise the ultimate goal: Delivering high quality education allowing our youngest citizens to realize productive and rewarding lives.

    About the Author:

    Mary Welsh Schlueter serves as Chief Executive of the Partnership for Innovation in Education.  PIE is a national, nonprofit organization dedicated to facilitating educational innovation that accelerates academic achievement, offers critical thinking and career-readiness skills and promotes economic development.

  • Distraction or Development: Technology’s Role in Education

    Posted by P.I.E. | December 1, 2010

    Partnership for Innovation in Education

    Mary Welsh Schlueter, PIE Founder and Chief Executive

    As the season of giving approaches, many parents and teachers ask the same question:  “Do children REALLY need all this technology”?  To remain competitive in the academic and workforce sectors, the immediate answer is “yes”.   And that’s not a bad thing.

    You may not dream of the newest tech launch, but kids do.  Spurred by the Internet, the global “Age of Information” has heightened the volume of information and knowledge distribution.  Children have become the savviest consumers of the latest advanced technology.

    A recent Black Friday survey conducted by predicts Apple’s iPad will top the “most sought after” products followed by Microsoft’s Xbox 360 Kinect.  Other products predicted to show strong sales include Apple’s iPhone 4, HTC Droid, Amazon’s low-priced Kindle, plus Sony and Samsung 3D TVs.

    Research indicates tweens and teenagers are loading their holiday “wish lists” with technology gadgets from iPads, MP3 Players, Smartphones and Nintendo DS units.   How can schools compete with such explosive technology growth?

    Opinions are mixed regarding technology’s efficacy within the classroom.  With the federal government’s continued support of the portfolio STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) school program, leaders insist educational institutions embrace technology as a curriculum discipline.  As seen in the Cincinnati Enquirer article, “Age of Information Accelerates Demands on Students”, University of Cincinnati Assistant Department of Education Nelson Vincent, argues that technology is now a component of “teaching the 4C’s:  critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity-innovation.”

    Others aren’t so sure.  A recent New York Times article, “Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction”, highlights concerns about the sheer volume of technology usage by teenagers.  “Students have always faced distractions and time-wasters. But computers and cell phones, and the constant stream of stimuli they offer, pose a profound new challenge to focusing and learning.”

    NYT researchers argue that kids – unlike older adults — are able to effectively multi-task “constantly switching tasks” but are “less able to sustain attention.”  Yet society demands effective and efficient technology “jugglers”.  And as the global economy continues to reward the efficient and effective use of allocated resources, technology will be the competitive tool of choice.   Simply, as manufacturing becomes less labor dependent, the service-driven economy will focus on IT.

    To borrow from Oldsmobile:  “This isn’t your father’s economy anymore”!  Every new advancement changes how we live, work, play, and learn.  And students need to feel secure moving among competing realities.

    There is no doubt schools must adapt curriculums to incorporate technology.  The Internet offers new opportunities and constant, iterative updates of existing knowledge, information, and skills.  Schools that can best utilize these tidal shifts in information and knowledge delivery will be best positioned for success.

    The video “Fast Times At Woodside High” shows a Silicon Valley school using creative process techniques to spur educational development. Their hope lies in regaining lost ground hindered from slow technology adoption.    But as the video shows, such retroactive action isn’t enough to make significant progress.

    One targeted example of technology “mainstreaming” lies in the development of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) schools.  STEM schools emphasize technology’s global impact and its “connectedness” to many diverse disciplines. Clearly, teaching technology in a vacuum is counterproductive.  Technology serves as a facilitator, marrying curriculums and balancing both creative (right brain) and critical thinking (left brain) skills.

    Students have become hardwired for instant information gratification, most markedly with the explosion of facebook and twitter.  But dysfunctional “blue sky” innovations create new opportunities.  Today’s parents and educators need only review their experiences with Rock n’ Roll, Hip Hop and gadgets such as the Sony Walkman, CD/DVD players and the cell phones of the 20th century.

    Technology will forever play a pivotal role in your child’s education.  My advice:  Exercise restraint, but never lose sight of technology’s power in your child’s future.   And yes, that new gadget is VERY cool…

    Fast Times at Woodside High Video

  • The “I” Word: Education’s Sexiest Term

    Posted by P.I.E. | September 28, 2010

    Partnership for Innovation in Education

    Mary Welsh Schlueter, PIE Founder and Chief Executive

    I glanced at the cover of the Harvard Business School Alumni Bulletin (September 2010, “Dean Nitin Nohria Sees Innovation as Future…”) and noticed the newest HBS Dean proclaiming the school must reclaim its innovation roots to successfully compete in the business and education sectors.  My answer:  Join the crowd.   It seems just about everyone thinks innovation will save their industry, attract customers, and educate children beyond America’s global competitors.

    With President Obama, Cincinnati Bell CEO Jack Cassidy, former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates, and New York City Education Chancellor Joel Klein recently touting “innovation” as their savior to creating new opportunities, one might ask how the word – by its very utterance – will deliver such results.

    The hard truth:  Innovation can’t save the world.   Thoughtful and strategic implementation of change-based initiatives offers greater opportunity AND favorable newsprint.   Simply, using the word “innovation” as a sound bite does little for anyone’s bottom line and jades the listening public.  Instead, providing concrete action, implementing known success strategies, and incenting behavioral change will emerge as the newest “sexy” among education and business stakeholders.

    We had a glance of such action last week, as members of the Cincinnati Public Schools Board of Education visited several NYC charter schools and declared their need to see “what was different” about those schools.  Was it a good photo opportunity, or a true interest in pulling the urban school district into a more achievement-oriented mindset?  Time will tell.

    Most educational innovators look for achievement goals paralleling the efforts of America’s global educational partners.  Right now, it’s no mistake kids from countries like Vietnam and India can recite the U.S. Bill of Rights quicker than American-born children.  Overseas, delivering educational excellence signals opportunity.  Why else would notable Ivy League educational institutions cite statistics with ever increasing admission numbers of foreign applicants?

    Everyone wins when kids are taught at the highest levels of their capability:  regional businesses draw from local talent, citizens attain higher living standards, and tax revenues rise with increasing, value-added employment.

    But don’t expect the “I” word to garner long-term credibility without seeing some history of its implementation and results.   Earn the “I” buzz by offering concrete and scalable solutions to educational achievement, and you’ll have just about everyone’s attention…. including mine.

  • Editorial Notes: Superman = Super Effort

    Posted by P.I.E. | September 21, 2010

    Partnership for Innovation in Education

    Mary Welsh Schlueter, PIE Founder and Chief Executive

    Education-based films are a hard sell among movie producers and directors.  The typical American film audience is age 10-17, and typical “shoot ‘em up” photography and thin plot lines are basic frameworks sold to this profitable demographic.  Art film festivals showcase more off-center or intellectual films, with thinner profit potential.  A film following ordinary school kids desperate for a chance to improve their lives isn’t generally a popular story line.

    Until now.  This past spring, Waiting for Superman wowed Sundance Film Festival audiences.  Because of the film, increasing numbers of viewers and media vehicles began to publicize how public schools, charter organizations, teachers unions, and politics affected the education system.

    Case in point, Oprah Winfrey featured the movie, its director (Davis Guggenheim), and key funders (Bill Gates) on her afternoon talk show just before the movie launches. Clearly, the film has hit pay dirt:  Oprah’s mainstream audience is a key stakeholder community directly targeted by the movie’s premise.

    Waiting for Superman is a bit like the best-selling teen novel, The Hunger Games.  However, instead of being awarded a fateful chance to almost sure death, the kids profiled in Superman wait to discover if they have “won” placement in several highly successful charter schools operated in New York City.

    In my opinion, this film could make us all activists.  But by both scapegoating and glorifying a range of stakeholder groups, it simplifies the issues and fails to provide viable solutions.  It takes hard work to create an equitable and individualized education system.  And change comes faster if we collaborate rather than point fingers.

    We all benefit by having a smarter and intellectually stimulated populace.  And it starts with you.   Join us.

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