Sputnik Anniversary Compels Look at K-12 Education
Good Op-Ed at Forbes.com about the need to invest in science and math education at the K-12 level to keep the US lead in science and technology. It points out that the current challenge to Americas competitive status is not a single high profile event that can galvanize the population but a slow decline in our education process and commitment to science and technology fields that has been happening for years.
Once again, our nation’s educational system has been called into question, as international assessments indicate that our K-12 students lag far behind their peers from dozens of other nations in science and mathematics.
Furthermore, the impending retirement of baby-boom scientists and engineers trained during the post-Sputnik era has led to concerns over potential high-tech workforce shortages. Only 4.7% of undergraduate degrees awarded in the U.S. are in the field of engineering, compared to a staggering 38.6% of those awarded in China. Clearly, our national commitment to engineering and other high-tech fields has waned. As these jobs are playing a larger and larger part in the world economy, our timing is particularly bad.
Furthermore, their success does not spell doom for the U.S. economy as long as we react accordingly: with public investments that allow our students and workers to compete with their international counterparts. By building a solid bedrock of science and math education in grades K-12, we can assure a problem-solving, technically adroit workforce that will keep the U.S. in a position of global leadership.
It also calls on the government to implement the recommendations of the National Science Board report A National Action Plan for Addressing the Critical Needs of the U.S. Science, Technoloogy, Engineering, and Mathematics Education System. (PDF)