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Same Old Song

March 22, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 12

President Barack Obama has launched "Educate To Innovate," an initiative to bolster science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in the U.S. through public-private partnerships (C&EN, Nov. 30, 2009, page 9). I am bemused by this bold gesture on the part of our President, who campaigned for the office vowing "change."

Ever since I came to the U. S. in 1955 to carry out doctoral studies, which included associations with Linus Pauling and his disciples, I have been dumbfounded that bolstering STEM has been the clarion call of every U.S. president. How long will it take before this "bolstering" is accomplished and we no longer see it as "News of the Week"? It seems to me that this call to bolster STEM is, in fact, the usual ploy of infusing funds to bolster the economy in the short run without tackling the real issues.

I am now retired, but having been a classroom instructor at all levels of education in the U.S., I can emphatically state that as long as we continue to placate the public and ensure student retention by instructing our young at the level of the lowest common denominator, bolstering STEM will never see the light of day.

Brahama D. Sharma
Chico, Calif.


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