Sunday, October 14, 2007

Much too late

Initiative To Foster Math And Science Grads
Firms such as Electric Boat welcome grant program to help state high schools develop better training in key technical areas.
By
Anthony Cronin Business
Published on 10/14/2007

It's no secret that business needs more math and science majors. A lot more.

But many of today's students aren't performing well in those subjects, and some of their teachers aren't getting the right training and support to properly teach these valuable subjects.

Thankfully, Connecticut is one of a handful of states that took notice – and acted, earning a grant of up to $13.2 million to create a new generation of eager, well trained scientists and engineers.

The news of the grant, which garnered considerable press and business attention this past month, is being welcomed by Connecticut companies, especially its manufacturers, which have long complained about a dearth of qualified candidates coming through their doors.

Connecticut, in partnership with the Hartford-based Connecticut Business & Industry Association, won the grant from a new non-profit association called the National Math and Science Initiative Inc.

The organization's principal aim is to help this country maintain, and bolster, its leadership in technical innovation.

[snip]

“At a time when all young people need higher skills to be successful, it's critical that Connecticut's education system provide students with the skills necessary to compete in today's high-tech global economy,” says Kaufman, who also heads CBIA's Education Foundation.

The grant has been awarded to CBIA's Education Foundation, along with supporting partners including the state's education department. It is funded in large measure by ExxonMobil, which has provided $125 million to the National Math and Science Initiative, or NMSI.

The non-profit NMSI points to a number of troubling statistics to support its mission to bolster the sciences and mathematics, including:

• Only 18 percent of high school seniors performed at or above the
“proficient level” in the sciences.

• About 30 percent of high school math students have teachers who didn't major in the subject or were not certified to teach it.

• Among low-income students, 70 percent of their middle-school math teachers majored in some other subject while in college.


I couldn't agree more that our nation needs to invest in mathematics education nor with the fact that we need to develop domestic talent in the STEM disciplines. The statistics speak for themselves and they're certainly not pretty. However, waiting until high school to do something about the problem is a severely flawed strategy. By then, it's much too late.

By the time a child is in high school the die has been cast and those children lacking a solid foundation in mathematics are either not prepared for the types of math courses that they require in high school if they are to go on to a career in STEM, or they have simply given up trying by then.

I do applaud investing in our students and in making changes that secure that we have a steady supply of homegrown engineers, but we need to start much earlier. We need to look at this issue as one of elementary and middle school education. High school is but one piece of the puzzle, and it may not be the most important piece either.

If we wait until high school, we will have waited much too long and that would not only be unfortunate, it would be a tragic waste of potential.

2 comments:

nowthatshockey said...

I'd rather see the money pumped into getting textbooks, workbooks, teacher guides of say Singapore Primary Mathematics Series or Saxon Mathematics or Houghton Mifflin or Sadlier-Oxford and having those given to school districts for their K-6 programs.

Or money given for school districts for K-6 so that students that can be accelerate are accelerated.

I'd rather see the money spent on lobbyists to defeat the MCmath movement.

I'd rather see the money well spent then just spent.

Because our nation has clearly just been spending money on education and as everyone knows, the results have been pitiful.

Gee, KIPP does more with less and yet nary a Board of Education follows that lead.

Why?

Gee, KIPP provides real progress of improvement (in mathematics) and yet noone looks closely at the details.

Why?

Time to invest the money in school choice - vouchers - forget the you go to the school that is in your zip code - and make it, you go to the school YOU desire to go to.

But alas, I am preaching to the choir.

Until our public education system is willing to honestly examine itself or until the political process forces that examination, nothing will change.

Only those with the means and the desire will get their kids the education they rightfully deserve.

PaulaV said...

Very well said!! School choice and vouchers would go a long way in ensuring parents get what they so desperately want: A good education for their children. Period.