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New Congressional Caucus Focuses on 21st Century Skills Education

Congress has created a new caucus for the purpose of keeping policymakers up to date on the importance of 21st century skills education as students prepare for college and their future careers.

Rep. Thomas Petri (R-WI) and Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) created the bipartisan organization, called the Congressional 21st Century Skills Caucus, which held its first briefing recently. The Caucus, along with the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), a national organization that advocates for 21st century readiness for every student, will bring in subject matter experts and model practitioners to inform policymakers about the importance of 21st century skills for student preparedness.

The Caucus will help the education system provide students with the knowledge and skills they will need to compete in a global economy that demands innovation, according to Rep. Loebsack.

"Our nation's workforce needs students to be fully equipped with proficiencies beyond the basics of reading, writing, and math," said Rep. Petri in a prepared statement. "21st century skills are becoming increasingly more important today for all students to be college and career ready."

The initial briefing of the Caucus focused on citizenship, and participants discussed how to better prepare students to be "savvy, engaged, and effective citizens in today's world." Specifically, the discussions addressed the effects of media, social media, other new means of communication, global connections, and reliance on constantly evolving technologies on effective participation in democracy.

"We need to be doing 21st century civics education," said Frank Gallagher, board chair of Partnership for 21st Century Skills, in a prepared statement. "It's a new world, a new economy, and we have new ways of engaging with neighbors, people, and government. It's past time we revamped civics education. Civics offer a great opportunity to practice the Four C's of 21st century skills: critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity."

Further information about the Congressional 21st Century Skills Caucus is available on the Partnership for 21st Century Skills site.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at [email protected].