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MOOCs with a Purpose: Securing Our Nation’s Future

• Samantha Tankersley

“The ability to acquire knowledge is the key to individual success and the key to our country’s economic success.” 

Patricia Levesque, CEO of ExcelinEd


“America has got to decide whether the American dream remains vital in the 21st century…or whether the American dream becomes the American memory on our watch.” 

Joel Klein, ExcelinEd board member and Co-Chair of the Council on Foreign Relations’ Task Force on U.S. Education Reform and National Security


Education reformers are often so focused on improving educational outcomes for students that we forget to communicate why reform is imperative to our society. For centuries, the American Dream has fueled innovation and success for our nation’s economy and citizens. This dream is founded on the ideals of limitless opportunity and social mobility. Education plays a critical role in facilitating both.

When ExcelinEd began the journey of developing EdPolicy Leaders Online – ExcelinEd’s series of free, self-paced online courses for lawmakers – we knew we needed to establish the “why” behind education reform before we could dive into the “how.” We started this process by asking our course presenters a simple question: Why are you passionate about education reform?

As you can see, education reformers draw their passion from many areas, including personal experiences, the firm belief in educational equality and parenthood. Every presenter touched on one foundational principle of education reform: the direct connection between education and the economic and social wellbeing of our country as a whole.

This connection became the catalyst for EdPolicy Leaders Online first course Securing Our Nation’s Future: The Urgent Need for Education Reform. Drawing from the Council on Foreign Relations Task Force Report “U.S. Education Reform and National Security”, co-chaired by Dr. Condoleezza Rice and Joel Klein, this course seeks to recognize and explain the causes of the U.S. education crisis, its impact on National Security, and the urgent need for education reform.

Currently, national and international assessment results reveal that many Americans fall victim to failing schools and limited choices. Eighty percent of our students graduate from high school, but the vast majority of them are not prepared for college-level work.[i] According to 2014 ACT results, only 25 percent of test takers were considered college ready.[ii] The results of international assessments are even more disquieting. Based on the 2012 PISA results, American teenagers are now ranked 27th in math, 20th in science and 17th in reading. [iii]

Drawing on the expertise of some of the greatest leaders in education, Securing Our Nation’s Future builds upon this data and discusses the connection between education and economic growth, competitiveness, physical safety and more.

In addition to being exposed to the “why” behind education reform, course participants will gain perspectives on solutions that can be adopted at the state level to strengthen education, including:

  • Heightened Accountability, High Standards and Meaningful Assessment
  • Educational Choice
  • Teacher Effectiveness
  • K-3 Reading and Early Literacy

As a nation, we cannot afford to neglect our most valuable resource – the potential of our children. Every child has the capacity to learn, and it is in the classroom where we create that opportunity.

Click here to enroll in Securing Our Nation’s Future: The Urgent Need for Education Reform.


[i] (Source: NCES, Common Core of Data, 2015)

[ii] (Source: ACT, Condition of College & Career Readiness, 2014)

[iii] (Source: OECD, US PISA results, 2012)

About the author

Samantha Tankersley

Samantha is the Policy Coordinator for the Foundation for Excellence in Education’s new initiative, EdPolicy Leaders Online. Before joining ExcelinEd, Samantha served as an advocacy intern for the Foundation for Florida's Future while simultaneously pursuing her master's in Public Administration from Florida State University. Samantha has also served as a teaching assistant for international schools in England and Switzerland. She received her bachelor's degree in Education from the University of Central Florida in 2012.