September 2010

Improving STEM Education

 

There is growing concern that American education in science, technology, engineering and math— known as STEM— is coming up short. As a result, the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration have developed new programs to bolster STEM education. Previous efforts have lacked adequate momentum to get started; will new programs receive the support they need to succeed? (Titled "The STEM of the Problem" in print version.)

 

America Competes
President George W. Bush signs H.R. 2272, The America Competes Act, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2007, in the Oval Office.

There is growing concern that American education in science, technology, engineering and math— known as STEM— is coming up short. Worried about the long-term health of the American economy, industry leaders recently testified before a congressional committee that American students are not prepared adequately for careers in STEM disciplines (see “Renewing America COMPETES” in the April 2010 issue of ASBMB Today). Equally troubling, a recent Pew Center poll found that less than half of all Americans believe in evolution, and two out of three do not see global warming as an immediate threat.

Responding to these concerns, the U.S. Congress and the Obama administration have developed new programs to bolster STEM education. Previous efforts have lacked adequate momentum to get started; will new programs receive the support they need to succeed?

Clouds on the Horizon

In its 2005 report, “Rising above the Gathering Storm,” the National Academies painted a troubling picture of the future of America’s economic vitality. The report noted that years of declining educational proficiency in STEM subjects was leading to the erosion of American competitiveness.

To reverse the trends, the Academies recommended making STEM education improvement a core policy theme.

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