21st Century Education-Con Qué Se Come Eso? @Univision #EsElMomento #Latism

    Many times, when the question arises about what 21st century education looks like and sounds like in today’s classrooms, we look at each other with that proverbial quizzical look that we embody in Spanish with the saying, “Con qué se come eso?”  Basically asking, “What does that even mean?”  The truth is that there are so many theories and methodologies about education floating around that it is sometimes hard to keep up with what works and what doesn’t.

    I have a unique perspective on education in this century due to my over 13 years experience as a New York City public school teacher.  During my tenure, I have had the opportunity to observe firsthand some of the issues with our current educational system as well as celebrate some of its victories.  One particular victory being the recent consensus that has been reached regarding implementing a common core curriculum across the entire United States.

    It was a necessary step that had to be taken because there have always been vast discrepancies between the resources and materials that students receive in inner cities or impoverished areas of the country and more affluent areas.  Although this may be a touchy subject for some, there is definitely a big difference between the academic outcomes of children in the “hood” so to speak and students who live in other areas.  Consequently, minority students including Latinos and African Americans are the demographics that have been most adversely affected by these academic inconsistencies.

    As a result, the thought of having a common core curriculum to level the educational playing field in this competitive academic and professional market, is one that I welcome in this 21st century.  It is wonderful to see my middle school students in the Bronx finally receiving the resources and literature that will allow them to compete head to head with students from other socioeconomic backgrounds.  Exposure to a common core curriculum for all students, if properly implemented, can mean positive outcomes for African American and Latino students across the country.

    I would also love to see more support for English Language Learners in the form of more dual language schools and programs.  A big reason why Latino students are unable to command the English language when they arrive in this country is because they are not truly proficient in their native language.  Literacy strategies, by nature, are universal and can be transferred between languages.  However, when you are working with children who never gained an academic level of proficiency in their native tongues, they have no strategies to transfer and, therefore, end up in a sort of academic limbo between the two languages.  Whether anyone wants to admit it or not, proficiency in the first language is important and does affect secondary language acquisition.

    These are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the issues and small victories that revolve around the education debate in the 21st century.  This is the moment to have these discussions and to take a proactive stance in working towards catapulting students into academic success and forward movement.  As educators and parents, we owe it to our children to keep this conversation going until we fully consider and address all of the issues that are plaguing our students in schools today.  After all, what better moment than the present to invest in our children who will be our future?

***Join the Education Week Twitter Party with @Latism @EsElMomento @Univision THU Oct 10 at 9pmEST #eselmomento #latism

Let’s discuss:  How would you define education in this country in the 21st century?  Do you think we are heading in the right direction?  Why or why not?

© 2013, Tough Cookie Mommy. All rights reserved.


  1. Amberlee Cave says

    While I do think that we are heading in the right direction, I do also believe that at some point we take it too far. Think I learned in my last year in high school are being taught to kids in elementary school. It not only makes it hard for these kids to learn, but also hard for the parents or families to help them learn. I’m sure it is hard on teachers too.

  2. I agree with what Amberlee said about making it hard for the families and parents to help the children.

  3. Terry My Journey With Candida says

    I never thought about students coming in from another country not being proficient in their own language. I just assumed wrongly that all had knowledge of their own language.

  4. I keep hearing about common core, but I am not entirely sure what it is. We do our own thing here in MA and it’s amazing when I talk with parents of children in the “city” and how behind they actually are. It’s sad.

  5. I have no children but believe that education is extremely important. I was lucky enough to go to a very good school system back when (Dobbs Ferry, NY). When I ultimately moved as an adult to Mt Vernon, NY it became apparent to me that not all schools are created equal. Like the Bronx, Mt Vernon does not have a very good system! Do I think that standardized tests are the answer–no, not really. Some people test easily-others simply freeze when taking a test but otherwise know the subject. What I think we need is more funding for not only specialized leaning (English as a Second Language) but smaller classes where individualized attention can be given to those that need it.

  6. I also feel it’s important that children receive access to the same materials and resources regardless of where they live or attend school. It sounds like common core is a positive measure. Would love to see more movement in our country to truly value educators, though, and the educational system.

  7. Being a Latina mom and PTA President for years during my daughter’s elementary and Middle school years, I can attest to these “academic inconsistencies”. This is why I pay very close attention to the school’s curriculum and teachers, many whom I admire very dearly. It takes a lot of courage to be in the Educator’s shoes these days.

  8. GrandmaBonnie A says

    I agree with you that Common Core is a step in the right direction. We have a great educational system it just needs to be made level in all school systems. I have always wanted to see a common Core Curriculum in our school systems. When I taught ESL over seas I saw the benefits of Common Core in action.

  9. Annemarie LeBlanc says

    My understanding it the test was not designed to find outstanding children it to make sure that all schools offer the same level of education. Am I mistaken about this?

  10. Amanda McMahon says

    I don’t believe we’re heading in the wrong direction entirely, but I do think we’re off course. Perhaps the map needs to be redesigned. Schools need better support. What we know is that parental support is a huge indicator. Kids need MORE support at younger ages, not more WORK at younger ages.

  11. Since I never went to school in the US it’s hard for me to say anything about your school system. I didn’t even know that there was no common core here! It works for us, pretty good, so I think it is about time it starts here too!

  12. Katherine Bartlett says

    I home-school so I never even thought about this!

  13. JadeLouise Designs says

    I think kid’s education is so very important. And I’m so glad that common core is helping out the inner city schools to raise levels of understanding and educating.

  14. I love you Maria, You sound like such an awesome teacher. I enjoyed reading this to keep up with the educational field.

  15. Liz @ A Nut in a Nutshell says

    I think my kids have been out of school long enough so that I really can’t speak to this as well as those with kids still in school.

  16. Having kids that went through the NYC Public School system in Brooklyn I can certainly say that there is a difference as you say between the education in the “hood” compared to other areas. It’s why so many parents in the other boroughs strive to send their kids to school in the city. As for the education system heading in the right direction, that’s a tough question to answer. Sometimes it seems that way sometimes it doesn’t.

  17. Daisy Tremorev says

    Maybe I am on my own here, but I feel like too much technology has been moving into the classroom. It’s a pet peeve of mine because I often feel like the important teacher-student interactions are reduced when too much technology is used. I mean, some is good, but sometimes I feel that it is overdone. I hope that makes sense.

  18. Melanie Roberts says

    We are in Florida and we have the same thing.. my kids go to a Charter school, it’s a free school but they have higher standards and higher funding and they learn a lot more then public school in town, it’s crazy to see the BIG difference.. I’m from Germany and our school system there was totally different yet we learned soo much more and were prepared for life not just for taking a test like they do here in Florida.. everything revolves around the FCAT test nothing else.. SOO stupid, let the teachers teach, let the kids learn but don’t teach just ONE thing to have them pass the test.. drives me crazy

  19. Lean Lacaba says

    I live in the Philippines, so i could not really comment on your country. Our education basically is in English, and a lot of students also have a hard time in making English their second language. Teachers here may be different for the US, especially because we have different curriculums. Technology though helps in educating, with computer classes becoming a required subject for kids.

  20. I honestly can’t provide much insight since I don’t full understand what common core entails. However, I’m all for it if it is something that will strengthen educational values.

  21. Healy Harpster says

    I don’t know, it’s hard to tell if our education here is heading the right way or the wrong way. But, of course, as parent I would hope that it will head the right way. A common core curriculum will be a great idea.

  22. Courtney Pies says

    I’ve been out of school for almost 5 years now and can say that I think I learned a lot of great, useful things while in school. I hope my daughter, when she enters school, will get to learn even more!

  23. kristenione says

    That’s very interesting about the children not being proficient in their own languages and then having a hard time learning English. That makes sense! I have taught ESL before and actually never considered that perspective! Great post!

  24. That’s a wake up call, about the children not being proficient in their own language 🙁 I wish a lot more funding went into teaching children no matter where they came from. They are our future!

  25. I taught for almost years before quitting last year. I think education, at least public education is going in the wrong direction. Too much blame is put on the teacher for a student’s/family’s lack of effort. Parents think their child can do no wrong. Classes are over capacity,and you can’t even hug a child anymore. God is absent and so are a lot of parents. Learning about life shouldn’t only come from teachers. Parents NEED to be involved and they are not (there are a few diamonds left that care). Doctors are ready to over medicate children for ADD or ADHD instead of just realizing some kids just have more energy that needs to be geared in a more positive direction, but with over loaded classrooms how can a teacher do that? I am a proponent of homeschooling (if you are willing to do the socializing part right) and of small semi-montessori-based classrooms. Schools are not allowed to teach the theory of intelligent design but have to teach the theory of evolution as fact. a standardized curriculum is something I do not agree with. Standardized goals yes, curriculum NO! Each student should have an education that is equal, but the way to get to that equal education is not always the same path/lessons/ideas.

  26. Denise Taylor-Dennis says

    I think the disparities that exist are just downright sad. I am fortunate enough to live in a nice area where I would not mind sending my son to school. I know many people don’t have the option they send their kids to schools that don’t perform well. I think that too much God has been removed from every facet of this country and that a lot of our problems start there.

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