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Volume 85 Issue 41 | p. 8 | News of The Week
Issue Date: October 8, 2007

Teaching Science

National Science Board makes bold proposals for bolstering science education system
Department: Science & Technology, Government & Policy, Education
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Beering and fellow NSB members Jo Anne Vasquez (center) and Elizabeth Hoffman roll out the new STEM education action plan.
Credit: Susan Morrissey/C&EN
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Beering and fellow NSB members Jo Anne Vasquez (center) and Elizabeth Hoffman roll out the new STEM education action plan.
Credit: Susan Morrissey/C&EN

THE NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD has recommended that Congress establish a national council for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. The recommendation is part of an ambitious action plan that NSB proposed last week to shore up the faltering system of STEM education in the U.S.

The plan emphasizes actions that can be taken at the federal level, and several members of Congress said they support its recommendations.

"Addressing the shortcomings of the nation's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education system is absolutely essential to the continued economic success of the nation and to its national security," said NSB Chairman Steven C. Beering at the plan's release on Oct. 3 at the U.S. Capitol. NSB is the governing body of NSF. "Unless there is a broad pool of K-12 students with a solid foundation in STEM disciplines, it will be very difficult for the U.S. to develop the mathematicians, scientists, and engineers the nation needs."

The board has identified as the major challenges facing the education establishment a lack of coherence in STEM education programs across individual school systems and a need for more well-trained STEM teachers. The board recommends establishing a national council that would coordinate local, state, federal, and nonfederal efforts to solve these problems.

Other recommendations include the creation of a committee on STEM education in the White House National Science & Technology Council to coordinate federal efforts, the appointment of a STEM expert as an assistant secretary of education in the Department of Education to coordinate that agency's efforts, and the creation of a national road map by NSF to improve STEM education.

House Science & Technology Committee Subcommittee on Research & Science Education Chairman Brian Baird (D-Wash.), who attended the plan rollout, pointed out that his subcommittee will hold a hearing on the report on Oct. 10, and Rep. Michael M. Honda (D-Calif.) noted that he is already working on legislation to improve STEM education.

 
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