[ExI] jobs craved

Emlyn emlynoregan at gmail.com
Wed Nov 25 06:19:51 UTC 2009

spike wrote
> Our nation is paying the penalty for collective innumeracy, and a most
> severe penalty it is James.  I am seeing nothing in the mainstream press
> about how illogical it is to state the number of jobs craved with no time
> unit attached, or about reporting six significant digits in an estimate that
> scarcely justifies one digit to plus or minus 30%.  We have worried about
> our public education system turning out illiteracy, but what about the
> innumeracy and illsciencey.


Obama redoubles push to improve science education
By Janet Raloff

During his address to members of the National Academy of Sciences,
today, President Obama outlined a number of budget and policy
priorities. Key among them: boosting interest among youngsters in
science and math — with an eye towards encouraging them to consider
careers in allied fields. The president also pledged to improve the
quality of educators that train the nation’s youth in science and

“We know that the nation that out-educates us today will out-compete
us tomorrow,” the president said. And U.S. students no longer stand on
a pedestal. They have fallen behind their peers in Singapore, Japan,
England, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and Korea, among others, Obama
noted. And in one assessment, American 15-year olds “ranked 25th in
math and 21st in science when compared to other nations.

“We know that the quality of math and science teachers is the single
most influential factor in determining whether a student will succeed
or fail in these subjects,” he said. “Yet in high schools, more than
20 percent of students in math and more than 60 percent of students in
chemistry and physics are taught by teachers without expertise in
these fields.“ Moreover, Obama noted, this problem is slated to worsen
substantially: “There is a projected shortfall of more than 280,000
math and science teachers across the country by 2015.”

What to do? The president pointed to one reasonably new incentive.
Starting today, he said, “states making strong commitments and
progress in math and science education will be eligible to compete
later this fall for additional funds under the Secretary of
Education’s $5 billion Race to the Top program.” Created through the
Stimulus-funding package, this program rewards states that boost their
academic standards, assessments, curricula and partnerships with
outside groups.

The president also challenged schools to find better educators in math
and science — individuals who will more reliably “engage students and
reinvigorate those subjects.” Toward that end, he said his
administration would support “inventive approaches” — such as programs
that retain and reward “effective” teachers. We’ve heard that line
before. Reward teachers’ performance, not attendance. Unions may not
like that, but something’s clearly got to change.

Obama also called for creating “new pathways for experienced
professionals to go into the classroom. There are right now chemists
who could teach chemistry, physicists who could teach physics,
statisticians who could teach mathematics.” He’s right. Only there’s
more to teaching than knowing the subject matter. Subject proficiency
should be a prerequisite (how novel), but knowing how to communicate
effectively should also be a minimum requirement. And as we all know,
many good scientists aren’t patient, don’t have good communication
skills, and/or don’t know how to motivate headstrong adolescents with
everything on their mind but chemistry, physics and math.

In fact, Obama seems to recognize this too. Which is why he
recommended that scientists and educators encourage students “to get a
degree in science fields and a teaching certificate at the same time.”

In today's address, the president also challenged researchers to visit
classrooms throughout the nation so that more students could
understand the role of science and engineering in shaping the world —
their iPod-driven, texting oriented, Facebook-dominated environment —
and witness the “enthusiasm” of researchers that led to these and
other elements of everyday life.

The new administration has also set a goal to enhance the United
States’ ability to compete for high-wage, high-tech jobs and to foster
the next generation’s best scientists and engineers. By 2020, the
president pledged, “America will once again have the highest
proportion of college graduates in the world.” Tax credits and grants
will be there to “make a college education more affordable,” he added.

The president’s new budget would also triple the number of National
Science Foundation research fellowships to graduate students. (Really
huge applause.) Obama noted that this program was created a
half-century ago as part of the space race. However, in the succeeding
years, its size has changed little, despite the skyrocketing number of
students now available to benefit from them.

Federal investments can do a lot to revamp the nation’s flagging
research and education enterprises. But there’s also plenty that money
can’t buy, the president told research dignitaries in the room. “So
today I want to challenge you to use your love and knowledge of
science to spark the same sense of wonder and excitement in a new

Other highlights of the President’s address today included several
other recycled themes, such as:

1) the decision to make new programs that produce, use and save energy
the #1 priority for federal investments in innovation. Indeed, Obama
noted, that’s one reason “why we put a scientist in charge of the
Department of Energy.” That scientist, Nobel physicist Steven Chu, was
sitting in the audience and won a huge round of applause.

2) The Obama administration is in the process of working to put a
market-based cap on carbon emissions. Big business is not a fan of
this proposal, Congress is learning. I guess the carbon cap-and-trade
proposal was highlighted in hopes of getting the science community to
help lobby for its adoption.

3) And on March 9, the president noted, he signed an executive memo
pledging that “the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are
over.” The president noted that his new science adviser has been
tasked with making sure that in future “facts are driving scientific
decisions, not the other way around.” Amen to that.


http://emlyntech.wordpress.com - coding related
http://point7.wordpress.com - ranting
http://emlynoregan.com - main site

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