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Let’s be clear: The problem with education in America is not lack of excellence. It’s lack of equity.

There are pockets of excellence that outshine the best of the best around the world. All across the country, students are designing, coding, composing, animating, and publishing. They are experimenting and solving problems of water and energy, creating local community guides, and connecting across cultural and national borders through virtual exchanges. All across the country, innovative education leaders and classroom teachers are engaging, motivating, and nurturing students to develop mindsets for lifelong learning.

And yet, huge gaps exist between learning outcomes, graduation rates, and college readiness of students based on race, class, and where they live. Gaps also exist between high-performing and under-performing schools based on differences in access to funding and resources, community commitment, and the willingness of school leaders to innovate.

All of this could be about to change. Just as the printing press and free public libraries caused literacy rates in Europe to soar by making books readily available to all, technology represents a similar and no less dramatic chance for Americans to learn.

Still, we face challenges. Not everyone has the vision. Not everyone is comfortable using technology for learning. Not all districts and schools choose to use their resources to purchase technology or offer the professional development and support teachers need to transform their print-based learning environments to print-plus-digital.

In the old model of education, the job of schools was to teach students everything they needed to know for life and work. But in a rapidly changing world powered by technology, we can no longer learn everything there is to know. Instead, students must acquire the knowledge, competencies, and drive that prepare them to continually learn new skills for a future we cannot predict. This can only be achieved by leveraging technology in learning.

At Digital Promise, our commitment to education is to close the digital learning gap by 2020, so all Americans have the opportunity to learn now and throughout their lifetimes.

And one more thing: words can be powerful, but the way to achieve positive change is to take action. At Digital Promise, we take ideas to action in everything we do.


About Karen Cator

Karen Cator is President & CEO of Digital Promise. You can follow her on Twitter at @kcator.

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