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For Immediate Release: June 19, 2007
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

SD at forefront of national initiative aimed at 21st century skills

Gov. Mike Rounds announced today that South Dakota is the fifth state to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills’ State Leadership Initiative. The national initiative promotes the teaching and learning of 21st century skills.

“With global competition and rapid technological changes, today’s workplace requires a skill set that is different from just 18 years ago when my youngest son was born. Twenty-first century skills will be critical to ensuring our success as individuals, as a state, and as a nation,” said Gov. Rounds. “South Dakota is committed to making sure that students leave our schools with the skills they need to be productive citizens, workers and leaders in the 21st century.”

Twenty-first century skills have been defined by business leaders as those skills necessary for young people to live and work in today’s highly competitive, global economy. They include skills such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication, leadership and technology literacy.

Ken Kay, president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, commended South Dakota for prioritizing the 21st century learning outcomes its students need to become successful citizens in today’s society. “South Dakota is already a nationally recognized leader in technology access, use and capacity throughout its public education system,” he said. “We’re looking forward to working with the state’s education, business and public policy leaders to create a comprehensive framework for 21st century learning outcomes.”

As part of its involvement in the Partnership, South Dakota has created a P21 Advisory Council. This group of business leaders and policy makers will advise state education leaders on the effectiveness of South Dakota’s education system, from pre-kindergarten to the doctoral level. The council will use the 2010 Education Initiative as a starting point for assessing the state’s efforts related to 21st century skills.

“Under the 2010 Education plan, schools have begun to implement a number of strategies – laptop initiatives, senior projects, personal learning plans – aimed at improving 21st century skills,” said Education Secretary Rick Melmer. “With the help of the P21 Advisory Council and the national Partnership, we think we’ll be able to advance the teaching of 21st century skills even further,” he said. Melmer expects the council to meet three times a year.

Four other states – Massachusetts, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin – belong to the Partnership’s State Leadership Initiative.

The Partnership’s member organizations include business leaders such as Apple, Cisco Systems, Ford Motor Company, Microsoft Corporation, Texas Instruments and Verizon.



Terry Baloun, Board of Regents

Mark Buche, Tessier’s Inc.

Brad Drake, Ultra Inc.

Dr. Kelly Duncan, Board of Education

Dana Dykhouse, First Premier Bank

Dr. Richard Gross, Technical Institutes

Rep. Clayton Halverson, House of Representatives

Rep. Phyllis Heineman, House Education Committee Chair

Harvey Jewett, Board of Regents

Mark Johnston, Sanford Health

Don Kirkegaard, Board of Education

Senator Dave Knudson, Senate Majority Leader

Barry Martin, U.S. Bank of South Dakota

Senator Ed Olson, Senate Education Committee Chair

David Owen, S.D. Chamber of Commerce & Industry

Rep. Tim Rave, House Speaker Pro Tempore

Fred Slunecka, Avera McKennan

Dr. Tad Perry, Board of Regents

Dr. Rick Melmer, Department of Education

Dale Bertsch, Governor’s Office