U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings released the following statement today in response to Tapping America's Potential: The Education for Innovation Initiative, a report released by a coalition of prominent business organizations:
America has long been the world's leader in science and technology, and we are working to keep it that way. I commend the Business Roundtable and its partners for identifying the challenge and recognizing the urgent need to address it. We agree that the solution must begin in our nation's schools.
The call to double the number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics graduates with bachelors' degrees by 2015 is a worthy goal—and a realistic one, if we make the right choices. The key to achieving this goal is to increase our K-12 pipeline by improving our high schools. The U.S. Department of Education will continue to work closely with the business community, educators, parents and children to bring high standards and accountability to all American schools.###
The following is an excerpt from an editorial appearing in the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram (7-25) arguing for a renewed national focus on science and math education:
"It’s Time For Action"
…The strength of a nation can be measured in many ways, including productivity, military might, trading power and influence. But intellectual power drives all of those other measures — and the United States (and Texas) is falling behind the rest of the world….
It's time for action. It's needed at all levels — national, state and local — and in all school districts.
Money is part of it — loans, scholarships, debt forgiveness for crucial courses of study, more money for research and development.
Teacher certification is part of it — making sure that math and science teachers are qualified in their fields, making sure that they have access to training and that salaries are competitive.
Federal policy is part of it — crafting immigration and visa policies that protect national security but keep American-trained but foreign-born scientists and engineers in the United States.
But probably the real bottom line is this: Science and math need to be recognized as important subjects and accorded the status and respect they deserve.
We have become great consumers of products produced by scientists and engineers. But increasingly, those products are built — and designed — elsewhere in the world.
We once dreamed, as a nation, of using science to slip the bonds of Earth, to explore the reaches of our world and the universe. Now we risk letting the vast promise of science slip from our grasp. We can't afford to let that happen.
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