Sunday, September 04, 2005

Vicissitudes: Education

"SAT scores show state should stay the course"

This is the headline of a Sunday editorial by Inez Tenenbaum in the Greenville News making the point that SAT scores have improved significantly in recent years. If gauged by a measure she believes is more accurate, the National Assessment of Educational Progress:
South Carolina has made a tremendous investment in high standards and accountability, in financial and human terms. Our system is respected around the nation as one of the toughest and most rigorous. Most important of all, it is working -- by virtually any standard and virtually any measure.
In another article titled "America must produce more new engineers" that appeared in the Courier Post Online last Sunday, Frank Radcioppi observes:
According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are now more graduates of fast-food management universities than there are engineers in the United States... A study of math and science skills by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that U.S. students ranked 24th out of the 29 countries evaluated. More disturbing is that 38 percent of all engineers with doctorates in the United States are immigrants.
Incremental improvements in the way we educate are children are fine and good. It's better than going the other direction.

But we are facing down the barrel of a long-term crisis greater than 9-11 or Katrina. We are at risk of losing our competitive advantage globally. We need a Manhattan Project or a Man To the Moon commitment to radically overhaul our system of education, and we need it today.

Unfortunately this crisis is not occurring in the midst of a world war or the launching of Sputnik. It is a slow burn. Will we react before it is too late?

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