Broadening students’ exposure to math, science and other cultures is critically important in making sure today’s graduates are competitive in a global economy, according to a panel of community leaders who spoke today at Wake Education Partnership’s 2011 Education Summit.

More than 400 business leaders, educators and elected officials attended the event at the Embassy Suites in Cary where they heard SAS CEO Jim Goodnight, NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson, Wake schools Superintendent Tony Tata and VIF International CEO David Young offer their thoughts on what is being done — and what needs to be done — to close the global achievement gap.

“We need another Sputnik,” said NCSU Chancellor Randy Woodson. “We need another defining mission to stimulate interest in science and technology.”

For students in K-12, that means building on public interest in creating more schools that emphasize global awareness and courses in science, technology, engineering and math. For college students, especially future teachers, it means increasing opportunities to study abroad.

This year’s panel discussion, moderated by NC Technology Association President and CEO Brooks Raiford, focused on the theme of “Creating Opportunities to Close the Global Achievement Gap.” It was designed in part to follow a presentation at last year’s event where Harvard educator Tony Wagner spoke about the urgent need to equip students with the survival skills needed in a global economy.

In addition to the panel discussion, the Rev. Marion B. Robinson, pastor of St. Matthew A.M.E. Church in Raleigh, received the 2011 Vernon Malone Friend of Education Award. The Friend of Education Award, the highest honor given by the Partnership, recognizes individuals who have been unwavering in their support of public education.

Rev. Robinson is co-founder of the Harriet B. Webster Task Force for Student Success and has worked with Wake County’s teachers and parents for nearly two decades to help close the academic achievement gap. He is also senior vice president of Financial Systems at the North Carolina State Employees Credit Union.

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About Wake Education Partnership

Wake Education Partnership is an advocacy organization dedicated to making world-class schools possible in Wake County through business and community involvement. It plays a critical role in helping business leaders, elected officials and educators work toward the common goal of increasing student performance measured against world-class academic standards. For more information, please visit www.wakeedpartnership.org.

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