How much are you willing to "suspend disbelief" about the kind of world class education that should be provided in Wake County's schools.
"Suspending Disbelief" is the title of a new report that will be officially released next week by the Wake Education Partnership on what it would take for the Wake school system to offer a "world class education."
Denlinger opened by giving several reasons as to why a world class education issue is needed. She pointed to figures showing how India and China both have more honors students than the number of honors and non-honors students in North America.
To meet this need, she said the Wake Ed Partnership began working in February 2008 on how to define a world class education. She said one of the first things they decided on was to forget about what's now taught and instead prepare "kids for a world we don't understand."
But she quickly added that it would be built on a system in Wake that she believes is already strong.
"There aren’t many school systems in this country who we believe have the capacity to do what the Wake County Public School System has the capacity to do," Denlinger said.
She said the new competencies needed will be using all forms of technology, being culturally aware, effectively communicating across culture, being up to date on global events and working together in multicultural teams
While all the multicultural talk might make some grumble, Denlinger noted how in the future a larger percentage of Americans will be foreign born and that worldwide population growth will shift toward Asia and Africa.
Denlinger said the new curriculum must go into fewer topics in greater depth, develop academic standards tied to international tests and have more of a global perspective.
Denlinger took the current state curriculum to task for only requiring "a shallow understanding of life beyond the U.S." After noting how the state calls for two years of teaching North Carolina history but only one year of world history, she asked the audience, "does that sound rational?”
She said every child should have a second language in K-12, along with learning about the culture of that language.
She stressed teaching science, technology, engineering and math skills.
She said the curriculum must challenge top students to a higher level while offering high standards for students who plan to go to work right after graduation.
She acknowledged that it will require changing the state's program. It would also require the state changing its curriculum because Wake won't deviate on its own that much from the standard course of study.
Denlinger said this ambitious new system is "all achievable if we come together to work for our students."
Whether this is a pie in the sky idea or something that the school system seriously engages in remains to be seen.