Bold, Vague: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce Wants Someone to Improve Science and Technology Education

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The U.S. Chamber of Commerce believes that America’s business leaders must do a better job urging for reform and improvement of America’s science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education.

According to an article by Jamaal Abdul-Alim in Diverse Issues in Higher Education:

In order to make the United States more competitive in technological innovation, business leaders must step up and play a more forceful role in shaping how so-called STEM education is designed and delivered.

That was the heart of the message delivered by a series of speakers and in a new report released Wednesday during a forum held at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Of course, “playing a more forceful role” doesn’t mean such involvement will be beneficial. We’ve known for years that American STEM education needs some work. In January 2010 President Obama announced a $250 million endeavor to increase the number of STEM teachers in American public schools, saying “Our future is on the line. The nation that out-educates us today is going to out-compete us tomorrow.”

But more involvement from business in STEM won’t necessarily make America out-educate the rest of the world.

At the forum, and in the report, The Case for Being Bold: A New Agenda for Business in Improving STEM Education, speakers suggested that schools should invest less amounts of scarce school money on the hiring and training of actual teachers and more on “computers and other gadgetry,” as Abdul-Alim put it, in order to capture students’ interest.

But that stuff is just about what materials to buy. Purchasing more computers won’t inevitably restructure education and get more Americans studying science and math. Just buying more technological products doesn’t mean the U.S. is making a serious investment in technological training.

Read the Chamber’s report on STEM education here. [Image via]

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Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer