Education mission may foster closer ties with China


As she prepared to lead an education delegation to China, Minnesota Education Commissioner Alice Seagren recently unveiled new Chinese language initiatives designed to better prepare Minnesota students to compete in the global marketplace.

“Bringing Chinese language classes to more Minnesota students is essential to preparing them to excel in a more competitive global environment” Commissioner Seagren said. “These initiatives are designed to help achieve that goal, while also developing a greater understanding of U.S. – China relations.”

During a news conference held at Yinghua Academy, a Chinese immersion elementary charter school in St. Paul, Commissioner Seagren discussed the Minnesota K-12 Educators Mission to China. She also announced the Department of Education’s plan to begin developing Minnesota’s Mandarin Chinese program, and its participation in the Minnesota/China Teacher Exchange Program.

The initiatives are part of Governor Tim Pawlenty’s efforts to bring Mandarin Chinese language classes to more Minnesota schools and develop a greater understanding of U.S. – China relations.

“Minnesota will be more successful in a global economy when we further cultivate relationships with our international partners and speak their language,” Governor Pawlenty said. “Developing a Mandarin Chinese language program for Minnesota high school students will help us build the bridge to this rapidly growing and expanding marketplace.”

Seagren was joined at the news conference by House Majority Leader Erik Paulsen, who authored Minnesota’s Mandarin Chinese legislation, and school administrators and students who are participating in the Chinese language initiatives. Below are brief descriptions of the mission and initiatives:

Educators Mission to China
The Minnesota K-12 educators delegation mission to China, which returned July 2, explored resources and potential relationships for their schools.
The delegation, which visited Beijing and Xi’an, met with officials from the Ministry of Education and visited with their peers in Chinese schools to develop language instruction resources, develop exchanges and learn about Chinese language pedagogy.

Thirteen school administrators traveled as part of the mission, which was sponsored by the National Office for Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language in China.

“This mission will give educators a first-hand understanding of China, its educational system and possible resources available to U.S. educators,” said Joan Brzezinski, Assistant Director of the China Center and delegation member. “The participants will learn strategies for bringing Chinese language and culture into their classrooms.”

Mandarin Chinese Project
This past legislative session, Governor Tim Pawlenty proposed and the Minnesota Legislature passed an initiative for developing a statewide articulated Mandarin Chinese curriculum. The initiative will ensure that our students are prepared to enter a competitive global economy.

During the news conference, Commissioner Seagren announced the Department of Education is bringing together a network of higher education representatives, educators, individuals who speak and write fluent Mandarin Chinese, businesses, Department of Education staff and other interested partners to accomplish the goals set forth by the governor and legislature.