Bioscience

President Obama reemphasizes push to improve science education

April 30, 2009

By Flinn Foundation

Obama Reemphasizes Push To Improve Science Education

Science News, 4/28/2009
During his address to members of the National Academy of Sciences yesterday, 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 math.

“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.”