Saturday, August 4, 2007

Will America Compete?

August 3, 2007
Competition Bill Passed to President's Desk
By Roy Mark,

Congress has approved legislation dedicated to improving America's ability to compete in a global economy. The America Competes Act would potentially dedicate more than $40 billion to federal research, development funding and math and science education.

I wonder what kind of math and science education they plan on funding? Please tell me it's not more of the same....

The U.S. House approved the measure on a 367-57 vote Thursday afternoon while the Senate endorsed the legislation on a Thursday night voice vote. The bill now heads to President Bush's desk for his signature.

On average, U.S. colleges and universities now annually turn out approximately 1 million graduates, but only 70,000 of those degrees are in engineering. By contrast, China and India churn out 6.4 million college graduates a year, with almost 1 million of those in engineering.

China and India aren't big fans of reform math and I don't believe it's a coincidence either.

To attract more students and teachers to those studies, the bill would create programs, grants and scholarships, including expanding statewide specialty schools in math and science. Several other programs in the bill focus on improving the skills of science, technology, engineering and math teachers.

Rigorous math and science schools- YES
Improving the skills of science, technology, engineering and math teachers- YES

"In passing this bill, we are asserting global economic leadership, creating new business ventures and jobs and giving future generations the opportunity to achieve the American dream," House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said in her opening remarks in support of the legislation.

My take:

This bill presents an opportunity if executed well. We need an objective analysis of where we are today and a hard look at the way we've been trying to turn this situation around for at least the last two decades. It's not working... don't go there, please. There is no doubt that our children must be prepared to take the helm in science, technology and engineering. Nevertheless, the direction our K-12 schools have taken so far isn't getting us there.

But if this bill merely represents more wasted NSF money invested in questionable curricula (such as TERC, Everyday Math, CMP, etc.) then we'll just have to keep finding the bulk of our engineers and scientists is someone else's backyard.

Read the entire article here.

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