State education and business leaders announced this week the nation’s first network of schools, organizations, and businesses committed to innovative approaches to international education.

The N.C. Global Schools Network, developed through a partnership between the North Carolina State Board of Education, the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, the N.C. Department of Commerce, NC STEM Community Collaborative and others, will focus on creating schools and districts with a deep commitment to international education and global competency.

This initiative will provide the skills needed for young people to understand and compete in the global marketplace.

“As educators, our job is to prepare North Carolina’s students for a rapidly changing and interconnected world,” said Dr. Bill Harrison, chairman of the North Carolina State Board of Education. “Today’s business environment demands that students have global literacy as well as the ability to solve problems, embrace diversity, honor differences, and work collaboratively with their peers around the globe.”

North Carolina was selected as the first state in the nation to launch the Global Schools Network based on its strong international business community, its stable cohort of J-1 exchange teachers in school districts across the state, and its historic commitment to and leadership in international education.

“For North Carolina, the Global Schools Network is not just an educational initiative; it’s an economic development initiative,” said N.C. Secretary of Commerce Keith Crisco. “Considering our state’s robust international business community, economic development in North Carolina is a global activity – and that must be reflected in how we prepare our students to compete in the global marketplace.”

Beginning with the 2011-12 school year, seven school districts will be identified to implement a formal Global Schools Network plan. This effort will include at least one district in each of the state’s seven economic development regions with the intention of including an additional eight districts by 2014, for a total of 15.

Cumberland County Schools was designated in August as the district demonstration model and the first district member of the Global Schools Network. Other selected school districts will commit to results-oriented programs that enhance global awareness, authentic language learning opportunities, global science, technology, engineering and mathematics, and international exchange.

“It has taken focus, courage and wisdom to keep our eyes on the goal of providing a world-class education to all students in North Carolina,” said Dr. June Atkinson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction. “And that education will enable our students to realize their dreams of living, working and prospering in the global community.”

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