BRICKS WITHOUT STRAW

 

 

America's Brain Drain

 in 

Math and Science


-KATHRYN WALLACE

 

The American Association for the Advancement of Science considers less than ten percent of all middle school math text books as acceptable, and found no acceptable science books.

 

"The second greatest threat to U.S. security, outside of a terrorist attack, is the failure of our schools to offer effective Math and Science curricula."

-Newt Gingrich

 

Scientists and engineers make up less than 5% of our population, but create up to 50% of our Gross National product!

 

The nation that produced most of the great technological advances of the last century now scores poorly in international science testing!

A 2003 survey of math and science literacy ranked American 15-year-olds against kids from other industrialized nations.

 
In math, our students came in 24th out of 28 countries; in science, we were 24th out of 40 countries, tied with Latvia.

 
This test, in conjunction with others, indicates we start out with sufficient smarts - our fourth-graders score well- but we begin to slide by eighth grade, and sink almost to the bottom by high school.

 

Don't Blame School Budgets

We shell out more than $440 billion each year on public education, and spend more per capita than any nation save Switzerland.

The problem is that too many of our high school science and math teachers aren't qualified. A survey in 2000 revealed that 38% of math teachers and 28% of science teachers in grades 7-12 lacked a college major or minor in their subject areas.

 

“The highest predictor of student

performance boils down to teacher knowledge."

- Gerald Wheeler

 

"How can you pass on a passion to your students if you don't know the subject?"

-Congressman Buck McKeon

Sanity Makes a Comeback!

 

  A study group within the National Academy of Sciences, came up with a number of innovative proposals. Among them are:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Recommendations 

 

Require teachers to demonstrate competence in their subject area

The Superintendent of Public Instruction does not know how many of the math and science teachers in our students’ classrooms are actually qualified to teach those subjects. Nationally, 56 percent of high school science courses and 27 percent of math courses are taught by “out-of-field” teachers.

  Streamline the alternative certification system  

A more streamlined alternative certification system would address teacher shortages in math and science by allowing qualified individuals (those who have adequate knowledge of their subject and the ability to communicate that knowledge to students) to teach without having to complete numerous years of additional schooling. Under the current system, Bill Gates would not be permitted to teach software engineering because he is not a certified teacher.

     Create incentives for excellent and high-demand teachers  

The shortage of qualified math and science teachers could also be addressed by a flexible salary model that allows demonstrably excellent teachers, and those who choose to teach high-demand subjects, to earn differential pay.

 

 

"If ifs and buts were candy and nuts then we'd all have a Merry Christmas."

Don Meredith

 

             

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