The Midwest is known for many great institutions of higher education. The same cannot always be said about the region’s secondary and elementary schools. Standardized test scores around the nation have dropped significantly since the 1950’s, when U.S. high school graduation rates were among the highest in the world. In the Midwest population decline and a loss of jobs has meant fewer students in schools from poorer neighborhoods.
The Chicago Council on Global Affairs held a panel on Thursday evening examining how education in the region can be improved. The panel was based on a report, written by James J. Duderstadt, president emeritus and professor at the University of Michigan.
In his report and speech, Duderstand says that the Midwest was once an economic powerhouse, but now is falling behind in a global economy driven by education and knowledge.
Duderstand says schools and educational institutions around the Midwest have to think globally, but act regionally. He recommends that institutions that were once rivals to join forces instead.
“Today our world has entered a period of rapid and profound economic, social, and political transformation driven by knowledge and by innovation,” said Duderstadt. These days, the educated workforce are key to “economic prosperity, public health, and social well being,” he said.
The panel discussion featured Duderstadt, Michael J. Hogan, president of the University of Illinois and Jerry Sue Thornton, president of Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio.