Many of my readers have known for years that I have always said that the wealth and security of our nation is dependent on the education of our citizens. Those who are trying to deny science fact with religious myths within our education system are doing more harm to our country than any Al-Qaeda terrorist.
I am now proud to announce that the White House is making $250 million in public and private efforts to improve our science and mathematics instruction, aiming to help the nation compete in key fields with global economic rivals.
With funding from high-tech businesses, universities and foundations, the initiative seeks to prepare more than 10,000 new math and science schoolteachers over five years and provide on-the-job training for an additional 100,000 in science, technology, engineering and math.
"Passionate educators with deep content expertise can make all the difference," President Obama said in a prepared statement, "enabling hands-on learning that truly engages students, including girls and underrepresented minorities, and preparing them to tackle the “Grand Challenges” of the 21st century such as increasing energy independence, improving people's health, protecting the environment and strengthening national security."
The initiative effectively doubles, to more than $500 million, a philanthropic campaign called “STEM” education that Obama launched in November. I am proud to say that my youngest daughter is in this STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) program with our local high school.
Business and government leaders have sounded alarms over science and math education in recent years as concern has mounted that the United States may be losing the technological edge that fueled its economy in the 20th century. The nation's universities are still known as world leaders, but the performance of its K-12 schools has come under scrutiny. International math testing in 2007 found that U.S. fourth-graders trailed counterparts in some areas of Europe and Asia and those U.S. eighth-graders lagged behind those from a handful of Asian powers. Similar results were found in science.
The government spends about $700 million a year on elementary and secondary education in the STEM fields through agencies such as NASA, National Science Foundation and the U.S. Education Department. It is well noted that in a time of rising budget deficits, it's unclear how much federal spending can be grown.
I am glad to see private companies such as Intel Corp. are committing $200 million in cash and in-kind support over 10 years for expanded teacher training and other measures.
Private institutions such as The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation will expand a program that places math and science teachers with advanced degrees in hard-to-staff schools in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio. With $40 million in foundation and state funding, the program will train 700 teachers over three years, many of them in Michigan, which has been pummeled in the economic downturn.
With this announcement I can see the ship of our nation being turned around after too many years of neglect in education, national leaders padding their own pockets with “No Bid Contracts,” and religious fantasists trying to expunge true science in our public school systems. I have said many times that if we're going to be economically competitive and continue to innovate and create jobs in this country and bring the “Value Added” manufacturing back into this country, we have to get much better in science and math and the “STEM” education program is the first step in educating the next generation to take up this torch and move forward.
There is now a huge sense of urgency being recognized in this country and that is a good thing.