The U.S. Department of Education’s representative for the Iowa region says the millennium generation — those kids born after 1982 — are driving the education reform movement in America today. Speaking this week at an education conference at Grinnell College, Mary Cohen says this is the largest generation of kids ever –surpassing even the "Baby Boomers."
Cohen says roughly 40% of this millennial generation is African-American, Latino, Asian, or racially mixed. One in five, or 20%, has a parent that is an immigrant. "That tells you that language is an issue, it tells you that many of these people are new Americans," Cohen says, "it tells you that we have to reform the education that we had previously thought was the very best."
Cohen says it is vital to teach English to the many non-English speaking students. She says something has to be done to integrate these foreign born children, and children who don’t speak English as a first language into our economy so they can contribute. Cohen says aside from language differences, cultural differences are a huge problem as well. Cohen says education reform needs to be done from the top down.
Cohen says she believes it has to start in the institutes of higher education, as that is where teachers are taught. She says colleges and universities have to set the focus and direction. Cohen says education has for too long been undercapitalized…and that more money must be spent at all levels of government.