President Obama and Governor Romney Crash Education Nation

Geoff Lane photo

One of the steps we’ve identified as critical to the long-term health of the economy is a renewed focus on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education.  Many companies in the high-tech sector have grown uneasy in their search for highly skilled human capital.  While it’s simple to dismiss these concerns when looking at the national unemployment rate, it’s also wrong.   

Yes, the unemployment rate has been stubbornly flirting with the 8 percent mark, but the unemployment rate for those with a college degree is roughly half that –at 4.1 percent.  For those with STEM degrees, the unemployment rate is even lower.  The website dice.com lists about 85,000 high tech job openings in the U.S.  As the economy improves, the demand for STEM professionals will continue to grow, but the fact remains that far too many American graduates aren’t prepared for the rejuvenated 21st century economy.  The jobs of tomorrow –those jobs that will drive the economy –require creative thinkers, armed with unique skill sets in math and science.

Consider that over the next decade, 30 of the fastest-growing occupations will require some background in STEM, but our students aren’t ready.  Not even half of American 4th graders and just a third of 8th graders are proficient or advanced in math, and our 15-year olds rank 25th in math and 17th in science among other industrialized countries.

Last week, education stakeholders from around the country gathered at the New York City Public Library to attend NBC’s third annual Education Nation summit.  The summit, held with the express hope of improving our country’s school system, was visited by both President Obama and Governor Romney.

In finding ways to boost our schools, both President Obama and Governor Romney were insistent that in order to close the opportunity gaps that are so prevalent in our school systems, and catch up to those foreign competitors who have invested in strong STEM programs, we need well trained, well equipped teachers.  President Obama reiterated his call for 100,000 new STEM educators, and Governor Romney called for schools around the country to attract the best and brightest educators by incentivizing the positions and making sure we reward those most effective educators with promotions. 

It’s encouraging to see both the President and the Governor agree on something as fundamentally important to our nation’s vitality as education.  Even as both continue to have disagreements on the role of unions and the federal government in the classroom, they occupy some common ground.  There is sure to be a great deal of turnover in Congress, and possibly the White House in November.  Whatever happens, both parties should come together after the election and look to STEM education as an investment, not a cost, in renewing the innovative spirit in the country.

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  • Guriya Mon., August 26, 3:33 AM
    You're still trying to covicnne yourself lol. If Romney can win, then how come so much fraud has been engaged in with lots of video proof on youtube? If Ron Paul was such a long shot they wouldn't go so far out of their way over him. You're talking about cash and endorsements which is something that makes me laugh but isn't itself significant at all. You don't know who can and can't win look at the nonsense you say to back up your claims. If anything you are telling what will NOT happen.
  • Menyerah Sun., August 25, 11:33 PM
    What does it say about GOP voters when they'll take the last man stadning and all vote for him when very few liked or agreed with him? Don't y'all ever get tired of doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results or do you want the exact same results. Last I looked, it doesn't matter whether there's a repub or a demodont in the Oval office we still are going down the toilet. It's time for real change. And millions of us will not buy into your fear that RP is unelectable.
  • Linda Sun., August 25, 10:38 AM
    Amen. Mitt better be scoirng some big points with all of the people that accused him of being a phony republican. While most conservatives, and about 2/3 of the conservatives in Utah (where I live) are wondering whether or not we can even vote for him, Mitt goes and helps him fund raise. Awesome man. GO MITT! MITT 2012!
  • Brody Walters Mon., October 1, 1:52 PM
    Makes sense... It's just amazing how we have known this for so long and have delayed our realization of this concept. At the end of the day it's about being competitive in a changing world and this is/should be one of if not our highest priorities as we transition into the "next economy".
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