Mapping the Nation website is sponsored by the Asia Society, Longview Foundation and Statistical Analysis System. It illustrates the impact of the global economy on local economies. The website contains an interactive map that pulls together demographic, economic and education indicators – nearly 1 million data points – to show that the United States is a truly global nation.

Each state is given a profile, and the site enables you to go down to the county/metro level to see how global the locale is. Resources, including a toolkit, are included on the site to help locales plan for the future. When you look at Kentucky as a state, the website indicates the following:

  • The state has experienced a 69 percent increase in the foreign-born population. Nationally, the majority of those born after 2008 are minorities.
  • 13 percent of the state gross domestic product is tied to exports of goods. Canada, Mexico and the United Kingdom are our top export markets.
  • 21 percent of jobs are tied to international trade. That’s one out of every five jobs in the state.

As far as how we are doing in preparing our students to live in a global economy, the data shows Kentucky schools cannot yet meet community needs and workforce demands.  For example:

  • Twenty-one of the top 25 industrialized countries begin language instruction in elementary school. Only 17 percent of Kentucky’s K-12 students study a foreign language. Additionally, higher education foreign language enrollment increased 73 percent between 2002 and 2009.
  • The vast majority of Kentucky students do not participate in study abroad programs, less than 1 percent in high school and 1 percent in postsecondary education.

While the data shows Kentucky has made some movement in becoming globally competent, if it fails to increase the focus on this through our education system and in economic development efforts, it quickly will fall behind. Our residents will not be competitive in the job market, and our economy will suffer.

An initiative directly related to global competency of students that has been put in place by the Kentucky Board of Education (KBE) is the World Language Program Review, designed to support global competence and second language skills. KBE restated its full commitment to and support of the World Language Program Review at its Feb. 5 meeting. As a reminder, the revised timeline for the World Language Program Review is for a field test in 2013-14, a statewide pilot in 2014-15, and full implementation in 2015-16 for state accountability purposes.