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N.Y. Times Editorial Weighs in on Science/Math Education

An editorial in today's New York Times raises anew the alarm bell about the state of math and science education in the United States and how this nation is falling behind others in producing scientists and engineers. It draws heavily on a recent report issued by the National Academies, "Rising Above the Gathering Storm, Revisited," which I blogged about last month.

"The situation remains grim," the editorial says. "According to a follow-up report published last month, the academies found that the United States ranks 27th out of 29 wealthy countries in the proportion of college students with degrees in science or engineering, while the World Economic Forum ranked this country 48th out of 133 developed and developing nations in quality of math and science instruction."

As for what to do, the editorial highlights a few ideas put forward by the recent National Academies report.

"Congress has an important role to play," the editorial says. "It can start by embracing the academies' call to attract as many as 10,000 qualified math and science teachers annually to the profession. One sound way to do that—while also increasing the number of minority scientists—is to expand funding for programs that support high-caliber math and science students in college in return for their commitment to teach in needy districts."

Although supporting math and science education certainly seems to be a fairly bipartisan issue that enjoys strong support from the corporate sector, something tells me that if Republicans seize one or both chambers of Congress from Democrats in the upcoming elections, the prospects of spending more federal money on such programs may be a tough political sell.

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