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Elite Math and Science Programs Taking a Hit?

It's difficult to find a set of academic programs that aren't being scaled back, or at least whose administrators aren't scrambling to reduce costs, in this economy. It appears that programs serving the most-elite students in math and science aren't being spared, either.

Today's Washington Post has a story about the impact of budget cuts on the magnet math and science program at Montgomery Blair High School, almost certainly one of the nation's top secondary programs in those subjects. The magnet program was created in 1985 with the idea of turning around an underperforming school, according to the article. Now it routinely produces students who match up well against students in the most elite math- and science-talent competitions.

Yet because of budget cuts, Blair's program has been forced to pare down its faculty, which could affect the amount of one-on-one attention students receive, the article suggests. It is also drawing fewer applications, according to the story, though school officials say they don't see that as a reason to worry.

You could debate whether the cutbacks at Blair merit comparison with some of the more severe scaling-down that's going on in other schools. But the story is at least a reminder of the breadth of the nation's economic woes and their reach across academic levels. To what extent might the federal stimulus money go to magnet programs, public math and science academies, and other programs targeting high-achievers? Should the money flow in that direction?

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