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February 25, 2005 Extra Credit
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February 25, 2005

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February 23
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"When Will We Wake Up And Smell The Competition?"

The following are excerpts from an op-ed in yesterday’s USA Today by Craig R. Barrett, the CEO of Intel and a board member of Achieve, Inc.:

"When will we wake up and smell the competition? U.S. corporations are begging for talent, as foreign scientists and engineers increasingly find well-paying jobs on their own doorsteps. The balance of innovation has begun to tilt eastward, as China and India start taking their own products to market. For the first time, other nations are about to produce more U.S. patents per year than the United States. China and India are expanding their university-level math, science and engineering programs at a pace comparable to the United States after World War II. Asian colleges now produce six times the number of engineering degrees produced here."

"‘The harsh fact is that the U.S. need for the highest quality human capital in science, mathematics and engineering is not being met,’ says the U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century. Nor is it likely to be met soon, judging by U.S. student performance on international math and science tests. In a recent study, 15-year-olds in the USA ranked 24th out of 29 industrialized nations on practical math applications.

"More troubling is a recent report released by Achieve, Inc. — a group created by the nation's governors and corporate leaders to help states raise standards — revealing one simple reason we're lagging behind: We've institutionalized low performance through low expectations. High schools expect only a small number of students to take the advanced math and science courses young people need."

"This weekend, Achieve and the National Governors Association will host the fifth National Education Summit to shape a new course for high schools. In past summits, much has been accomplished in grades K-8. But it will take more than leaders to address this problem. Parents and the public must support efforts to ensure that a high school diploma is a valid passport for good careers."

"The nation stands in immediate danger of losing its edge. True, the United States continues to hold an advantage based on industries established on science and mathematics knowledge. But it doesn't take a genius to see that new generations of well-trained minds will be needed if we're to maintain that advantage. And the competition isn't waiting for us to feel the pain."

The complete text of this op-ed is available from the USA Today online archives for a fee.

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NCLB Extra Credit is a regular look at the No Child Left Behind Act, President Bush's landmark education reform initiative passed with bipartisan support in Congress.

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Last Modified: 08/20/2007