The reality is that it’s time to stop looking to STEM education as a path to equality and recognize what high-quality, specialized STEM education is really for: ensuring future economic prosperity for the entire nation and all citizens who will benefit from high levels of innovation and globally competitive U.S. establishments. STEM is too important to America’s future to let social issues distort STEM education at selective, high quality specialty math and science high schools. The best students should be the ones who get in, regardless of race, ethnic group or sex.
Education & Training
Winning the Race 2012 Memos: STEM Skills
Skills, particularly science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), are key enablers of innovation and productivity. But the United States lags in the ability to field a globally competitive technical workforce.
In 2008, three times more students took the Art History AP test than the Computer Science AB AP test. Half of U.S. STEM doctoral degrees are awarded to non-U.S. residents. Over the last two decades STEM jobs have grown approximately 75 percent faster than STEM degrees, with the gap being filled by immigrants. And there is also a shortage of skilled technicians.
Companies can play some role in meeting these needs, but with increased pressures for shortterm profits and reduced job tenure, corporate funding for workforce training has fallen by half as a share of GDP in the last decade. K-12 schools and colleges do not graduate enough qualified STEM workers and technicians. And our high-skill immigration system is not meeting the needs of employers. As such, we need new approaches to winning the skills race.
Unfortunately, our politics impedes progress. Elements in both parties see high-skill immigration as a threat. Moreover, many Republicans want to limit the federal investment in STEM education and technical training, while many Democrats resist disruptive, but needed educational innovations like school vouchers and shifting workforce training dollars to employers.
Winning the Race 2012 Memos
As the 2012 presidential campaign moves in the final stage, ITIF is presenting general principles and specific recommendation ideas across several policy areas we believe the next President and Congress should adopt to restore U.S. global competiveness and prosperity.
As chronicled in Innovation Economic: The Race for Global Advantage, the United States is losing its once formidable edge as an innovator. Many other nations are putting in place better tax, talent, technology and trade policies, and reaping the rewards in terms of faster growth, more jobs, and faster income growth. It’s not too late for the United States to regain its lead but it will need to act boldly and with resolve.
Week by week until the November election, the Winning the Race series will put forward creative yet pragmatic ideas in policies affecting taxes, trade, education, broadband, the digital economy, clean energy, science and technology and other areas. Taken as a whole, the series represents a new Innovation Consensus to replace the outdated Washington Consensus.
Memo One (September 3, 2012): Boosting Innovation, Competitiveness, and Productivity
Memo Two (September 10, 2012): Trade and Globalization
Memo Three (September 17, 2012): Corporate Tax
Memo Four (September 24, 2012): Digital Communication Networks
Memo Five (October 1, 2012): Traded Sector Industries
Memo Six (October 9, 2012): Digital Economy
Memo Seven (October 15, 2012): STEM Skills
Memo Eight (October 22, 2012): Clean Energy
Memo Nine (October 29, 2012): Science and Technology
Memo Ten (November 5, 2012): Overcoming the Barriers
Complete List of Policy Recommendations: Top Policy Recommendations for the Obama Administration to Help the United States Win the Race for Global Advantage
Morrill at 150: Creating American Manufacturing Universities
In The New England Journal of Higher Education, Rob Atkinson makes the case for a new Morrill Act, in which the federal government support the designation of a core of approximately 20 leading “manufacturing universities.” As part of this designation, these universities would do several things. First, they would revamp their engineering programs much more around manufacturing engineering and, in particular, work that is more relevant to industry. Also, academic institutions would receive an annual award from the National Science Foundation (NSF), ideally at least $25 million a year, plus prioritization of their projects in the awarding of NSF grants
STEM Enterprise: Measures for Innovation and Competitiveness
ITIF president Rob Atkinson will present at STEM Enterprise: Measures for Innovation and Competitiveness, on 6 June 2012, at AAAS, in Washington D.C. The Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Enterprise (STEM) is the driving force for the U.S. and global economic and social advancements. The workshop will provide a forum to address these issues and discover roadmaps and milestones that can lead to policy implications and positions.
Laid-Back Higher Ed
While many focus on making elementary school children more competitive or focus alone on an increase in STEM education, there is increasing evidence that higher education institution need to be held to higher standard in producing students who have the ability to write, do math, and do logic.