Paula Cordeiro’s passion for education runs deep. Her loyalty to preserve education’s integrity and effectiveness is heartfelt. Celebrating her 15th year as dean of USD’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) this month, Cordeiro is so committed to it that she briefly paused to note that she was actually in San Diego instead of working on an international project.
“I’m usually not in the country in July,” she told a group of USD’s University of the Third Age life-long learners (ages 55 and up) in the Manchester Executive Conference Center at the start of a PowerPoint presentation she gave them this week.
Cordeiro’s mindset about education — that it’s an internationally accessible commodity — is a reflection of her own experiences as a student, teacher and administrator in Venezuela and Spain and the importance of preparing current and future educators.
Cordeiro recently returned from Ghana where she gave a presentation at the International Council on Education’s World Assembly at the University of Cape Coast with SOLES Professor Joi Spencer and Ghana education leaders, discussing ongoing research done by SOLES faculty, staff and students in partnership with an international organization dedicated to helping low-income communities thrive through education.
Cordeiro’s presentation Wednesday discussed “Schools as Global Enterprises: Re-imagining Education for the Age of Globalization.”
In her talk, she provided statistical information, expressed her thoughts about worldwide trends in education and SOLES’ approach to developing and preparing students.
Some statistical food for thought on education, according to Cordeiro’s research:
• Seventy-five million people are enrolled in schools from pre-kindergarten to Grade 20. This fall, approximately 54.6 million students will be in grades K-12.
• About 60 percent of 3- and 4-year-olds are enrolled in nursery school; 65 percent of children are enrolled in all-day kindergarten classes, up from 20 percent three decades ago.
• There are 6.5 million teachers and, today, California alone needs more than 20,000 if the present model remains intact. It’s estimated 2.2 million teachers will be needed in the next 10 years under the present model.
• Nearly 10 million school-age children, ages 5 to 17, speak a language other than English at home.
• Forty percent of elementary and high school students are minorities (i.e., people who are non-Hispanic white).
• By 2019, approximately 50 percent of all high school courses will be taught online.
Cordeiro also provided a simple picture of the U.S.’ educational shift.
The 1955 education model for children in grades 1-12 was elementary, junior high and high schools and the options were public or private school. Today’s model, however, has students going from pre-kindergarten to grade 12 and the road is diverse: elementary, middle and high schools through public, charter, private (for-profit, nonprofit) and virtual (public, for profit and nonprofit) options.
This changing world of education has produced steady student population growth; different types of students seeking education; an increase in combining work and study, leading to more flexible learning arrangements; more life-long learners and an emphasis on “learning to learn”; and the need to accommodate different learning styles, customization and alternative learning routes.
Three worldwide trends in education, according to Cordeiro’s research, are:
• Schools as we know them are not efficient, effective and financially sustainable in the age of globalization.
• There is a blurring of the lines between who provides education and learning opportunities with exponential growth in partnerships with nonprofit, public and private sectors.
• Technology — in particular, mobile devices — have radically changed opportunities to learn and to teach.
So how does SOLES approach it all? Cordeiro points to curriculum, pedagogy, faculty research and professional learning opportunities.
“Through these areas, there’s a greater likelihood of having future teachers and school leaders who are interculturally (globally) competent,” she said.
SOLES, which moved into the technologically advanced Mother Rosalie Hill Hall building in Fall 2007, incorporated leadership into its official school name a decade ago. Since then, the degree program has successfully attracted students who apply this trait in various education roles. It also complements SOLES’ active relationship with the military through its Army Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) program.
In Fall 2008, SOLES instituted a requirement that all students must have an international experience prior to graduation. The Ghana project is one example, but study abroad courses in Costa Rica, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Mondragon, Spain, and more are done through SOLES’ Global Center.
Centers, institutes and field experiences enhance knowledge and, through student action research projects, it’s shared within the education field. One fresh example is the new Mobile Technology Learning Center, aimed at researching, and simultaneously, championing K-12 innovation.
Cordeiro said SOLES is committed to “working with everybody,” whether it’s meeting with San Diego’s many school superintendents, students partnering internationally or combining efforts with other schools on USD’s campus.
“We want to engage with the world,” she said.
— Ryan T. Blystone