Yesterday, Deputy Secretary of Education Dr. Eugene Hickok answered questions from around the country on the White Houses interactive online forum, "Ask the White House." The following are excerpts from the discussion:
Val, from Petaluma [California] writes: Could you please explain the country's need for math and science teachers projected for the next 5 to 10 years ?
Dr. Eugene Hickok: There is no doubt about the fact that this nation will need more teachers in math and science in the coming five to ten years. We are a knowledge-driven economy; we are quickly becoming a technology driven economy; we are an international economic competitor; and the jobs of the future will require skills and a knowledge base that we are only now beginning to understand. It is essential that more of our young people enter the workforce with advanced skills in math and science. That is only possible of course if they take math and science courses in K-12 and postsecondary that give them those skills. And of course, those courses are only available if we have enough highly qualified math and science teachers. It is difficult to overstate how important this is to the national economy, to our nation's security and potentially to the fulfillment of young people's highest expectations for the future.
Mark, from Omaha, Nebraska writes: Why does one state get more federal aid for schools than other states? I understand the idea of population, but more is spent per child in one state than another. Why is that?
Dr. Eugene Hickok: Most federal taxpayer money going to states for public education [is] distributed based upon complex formulas that are defined in statutes. Most of it is targeted at low-income, high-risk populations [taking] into consideration [census] data, welfare data and other indicators of wealth and population. The purpose of the statute is to make sure that dollars go where the need is greatest. And that formula is updated every year.
Carter, from Michigan writes: What has the No Child Left Behind program done for education?
Dr. Eugene Hickok: That is the right question to ask. The No Child Left Behind Act emphasizes four important principles: Accountability, Flexibility, Empowering parents, [and] Evidenced based research. All four are necessary to improve American education. The first two are all about making sure we know about how our schools are doing - and eradicating the achievement gap. The [third] principle is making sure that students and parents have options when schools aren't successful. As we implement the law, flexibility is important so that state and local decision makers can exercise local discretion. And evidenced based decision making is important to making sure that public policy is sound. This law which has been in place since Jan 2002 is already making a big difference across the country.
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