STEM Calls for Change

According to their website, the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Coalition (aka STEM) aims to “support programs for teachers and students at the U. S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation, and other agencies that offer STEM related programs.” This new coalition consists of CEO’s who wish to devote their attention to improving the quality of education in math and science fields. They recently released a statement that urges state boards of education to “maintain or increase standards in math and science.” In a statement to NBC news, the chairman of the organization, Craig Barrett, former CEO of Intel, said, “”We’re basically lying to parents and their kids, saying that everything is ok, when there (is) data that suggest everything is not ok.” He believes that elementary level students would be better served by working with teachers who are specialists in their field rather than generalists. Such teachers would have a strong foundation in a particular subject. He continues, “”Today the probability if you’re in elementary or high school of getting a math teacher who knows math is only 60 or 70 percent.”
In fact, many elementary schools do not even include science education as part of the core curriculum until grade five. Regarding math, some schools are implementing “reform” or “constructivist” programs such as Every Day Math or TERC Investigations without sufficient training for the teachers. According to the National Assessment for Educational Progress, only 33% of eighth grade students are proficient or advanced in math.
Many lessons from the past and the present indicate that simply allocating more money does not solve problems. Training, diligence, commitment, and creativity are critical to implementing change. Parents need to be partners with educators. They must be actively engaged in their children’s education and demand high standards.

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