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SAMPLE
OP‐ED
IN
SUPPORT
OF
RAISING
STEM
STANDARDS



Few
people
would
argue
that
the
United
States
isn’t
slipping
behind
the
rest
of
the
nation
educationally.


This
is
particularly
troubling
for
us
when
it
comes
to
math
and
science,
as
other
nations
like
China,

Korea,
and
India
are
quickly
taking
our
mantle
of
being
the
world’s
technological
innovators
–
which
was

key
to
driving
our
economic
dominance
in
the
20th
century.




The
numbers
are
fairly
plain
to
anyone
who
reads
them.

The
National
Assessment
of
Educational

Progress
(NAEP)—the
nation’s
education
report
card—shows
that
less
than
40%
of
students
at
every

grade
level
tested
are
proficient
in
math
and
science.

On
the
most
recent
2009
NAEP
exam,
less
than

40%
of
fourth‐graders
were
proficient
in
math,
declining
to
just
34%
for
eighth‐graders.

The
math

results
are
even
worse
for
twelfth‐graders,
where
only
26%
scored
at
or
above
proficient,
a
paltry
3%

gain
from
the
first
administration
of
the
12th
grade
test
in
2005.



On
the
science
exam,
last
administered
in
2005,
only
29%
of
fourth‐graders
scored
at
the
proficient

level,
with
identical
results
for
eighth‐graders.



On
the
12th
grade
science
NAEP
exam,
just
18%
of

students
were
proficient—a
decline
from
1996.


Internationally,
the
Programme
for
International
Student
Achievement
(PISA),
an
international
education

benchmark
last
conducted
in
2009
by
the
Organisation
for
Economic
Co‐operation
and
Development

(OECD),
finds
the
United
States
barely
average
in
reading
and
science
and
below
average
in
math.

Our

nation
ranked
25th
out
of
34
nations
in
math.

Some
like
to
dismiss
this
harsh
reality
by
pointing
out
that

other
countries
have
more
homogenous
populations
and
therefore
fewer
socioeconomic
problems
than

the
United
States.

However,
according
to
OECD,
the
United
States
would
actually
end
up
with
lower

rankings
on
PISA’s
reading
assessment
if
all
34
developed
countries
had
the
same
average

socioeconomic
status.

Simply
put,
we
cannot
explain
our
way
out
of
this
dilemma—we
must
take

action.


One
of
the
common
solutions
bandied
about
is
to
encourage
students
to
simply
take
more
math
and

science
courses.

Algebra
II
was
quickly
determined
to
be
a
panacea,
with
an
increasing
number
of

students
being
ushered
into
those
classes.

As
such,
between
1990
and
2005,
the
average
number
of

math
credits
completed
by
a
high
school
graduate
rose
from
3.2
to
3.8,
with
more
than
half
of
all

students
enrolling
in
algebra
II
(compared
to
under
one‐third
in
1978).




Unfortunately,
the
problem
of
low
student
achievement
isn’t
so
easily
solved.

The
average
math
GPA

only
rose
from
2.2
to
2.6
over
this
time
frame,
even
as
more
students
took
higher
level
math.
Students

enrolled
in
algebra
I,
geometry,
and
algebra
II
in
1978
scored
higher
than
their
2008
counterparts

enrolled
in
the
same
classes.


It
stands
to
reason
then
that
we
must
not
only
look
at
the
quantity
of
education
being
provided
but
the

quality
and
rigor.

It
is
evident
that
we
have
too
long
been
content
with
providing
the
illusion
of

academic
rigor,
instead
of
doing
the
difficult
work
of
raising
the
standards
–
the
foundation
of
a
state’s

education
curriculum.
Math
and
science
standards,
in
particular,
have
been
in
need
of
improvement
for

quite
some
time.




The
Common
Core
State
Standards
Initiative
is
a
voluntary
movement
by
most
of
the
states
to
provide
a

clear,
concise,
and
rigorous
set
of
standards
that
are
common
across
the
nation.

Recognizing
that
the

knowledge
required
for
students
to
succeed
does
not
change
when
one
crosses
state
lines,
Common

Core
promises
to
ensure
that
all
children
receive
the
education
they
deserve.

Even
if
our
state
does
not

follow
the
movement,
we
must
ensure
that
our
standards
at
least
meet
or
exceed
the
ones
laid
out
by

Common
Core.

Further,
updating
our
standards
allows
us
the
chance
to
be
innovative
in
our
approach

to
education.

Strong,
yet
clear
and
concise
standards
give
teachers
the
flexibility
to
meet
the
needs
of

each
student
and
the
opportunity
to
be
creative
in
their
curricula.

Well‐designed
standards
can—and

should—place
teaching
back
in
the
hands
of
educators.


Critics
argue
that
standards
don’t
teach
children
and
alone
won’t
change
the
education
system.


However,
standards
are
the
cornerstone
upon
which
everything
else
in
the
education
system
lies.


Examinations
are
only
as
good
as
the
standards
upon
which
they’re
written.

A
teacher’s
curriculum
and

professional
development
programs
are
designed
after
the
examinations
are
formed.
Many
other

changes
also
follow
a
revision
of
the
standards
if
they
are
to
be
successful.


We
can’t
afford
to
nibble
at
the
edges
of
improvement
any
longer.

The
jobs
of
the
future
in
every

industry
will
increasingly
demand
that
workers
possess
strong
critical
thinking
and
problem‐solving

skills.

These
are
the
very
skills
that
are
incubated
in
STEM
education.

We
must
dedicate
ourselves
to
do

what
is
necessary
to
raise
student
achievement
levels.




Questions?


Contact:
Domenic
Giandomenico

Director,
Education
and
Workforce
Programs

Institute
for
a
Competitive
Workforce

Phone:
202‐463‐5764

Email:
domenic@uschamber.com





SAMPLE
OP‐ED
FOR
GENERAL
SUPPORT
OF
STEM
REFORM


How
do
you
prepare
young
people
for
jobs
that
we
haven’t
even
created
yet?


It’s
a
question
that
has
likely
been
asked
since
the
dawn
of
public
education,
and
traditionally,
the

answer
has
been
simply
to
create
students
who
are
as
well‐rounded
as
possible.

While
this
is
still
a

worthy
ideal,
we
have
information
at
our
disposal
today
to
help
narrow
the
focus
quite
a
bit.




According
to
the
report
Help
Wanted:
A
Projection
of
Jobs
and
Education
Requirements
Through
2018
by

the
Georgetown
Center
on
Education
and
the
Workforce,
we
know
that
approximately
two‐thirds
of
all

job
openings
will
require
some
kind
of
education
(e.g.
certificate
program,
associate’s
degree,
bachelor’s

degree,
and
beyond)
after
high
school
within
seven
years.

The
same
report
concludes
that
nearly
15%

of
all
job
openings
will
be
directly
in
science,
technology,
engineering,
and
math
related
fields
(including

health‐care)
and
many
more
occupations
will
have
strong
science
and
math
components
to
them
within

the
manufacturing
and
information
technology
industries.




Beyond
these
projections,
we
can
look
to
our
nation’s
past
and
clearly
see
where
the
areas
of
growth

will
be.

American
innovations
have
been
shaping
the
future
and
its
workforce
for
more
than
a
century.


Eli
Whitney’s
cotton
gin
forever
changed
the
face
of
agriculture.

Henry
Ford’s
Model
T
instantly
birthed

an
entire
industry
and
still
shapes
the
fortunes
of
entire
cities
and
states.

Without
H.
Edward
Roberts’

creation
of
the
personal
computer
has
set
us
on
a
new
frontier
that
is
still
being
explored
more
than
35

years
later.

In
each
of
these
cases—along
with
countless
others—it
has
been
the
brilliance
and

ingenuity
of
Americans
that
has
truly
driven
our
nation
towards
prosperity.




It
is
in
this
way
that
we
can
forge
economic
prosperity
for
ourselves
and
for
future
generations.


Innovations
such
as
these,
however,
do
not
simply
spring
from
the
ground.

They
are
raised,
cultivated,

and
nurtured
in
our
children
through
our
schools
and
classrooms.

Particularly
in
this
modern
era,

tomorrow’s
innovations
will
almost
certainly
be
built
upon
a
foundation
of
a
strong
science,
technology,

engineering,
and
math
education
system.


Certainly,
not
everyone
can
be
the
next
Mark
Zuckerberg,
and
not
all
of
us
are
going
to
be
engineers
or

biochemists.

Some
take
this
truism
to
mean
that
not
everyone
needs
a
science
and
math
education.


This
is
a
dangerous
misconception.

While
students
don’t
necessarily
need
to
learn
calculus
to
pursue

their
career
goals,
jobs
that
do
not
require
the
sort
of
reasoning
and
logic
skills
that
are
acquired

through
studying
math
are
nearing
extinction.

Similarly,
though
not
every
child
is
dreaming
of
being
a

chemist,
most
everyone
can
benefit
from
the
critical
thinking
and
problem
solving
that
accompanies
the

learning
of
the
scientific
method.

These
are
skills
that
are
increasingly
in
demand,
especially
with

manufacturing
and
technician
jobs
becoming
more
and
more
high‐tech.

The
days
of
assembly
line
jobs

are
quickly
giving
way
to
those
requiring
the
ability
to
diagnose
problems
with
complex
machinery
and

computers.


The
business
community
has
been
making
STEM
education
a
priority.

Business
leaders
frequently
serve

as
guest
speakers,
as
tutors
or
as
mentors
for
students,
as
advisors
to
principals
and
administrators,
and

as
professional
developers
for
teachers.

Entrepreneurs
like
Dean
Kaman,
inventor
of
the
Segway,

support
competitions
like
FIRST
Robotics,
which
provides
high
school
students
with
opportunities
to

create
a
robot
that
can
operate
autonomously
under
varying
circumstances.




Better
still,
these
kinds
of
activities
bring
the
wonder
of
learning
back
to
education
that
so
often
gets

lost
in
mountains
of
textbooks
and
exams.

If
we
are
going
to
inspire
a
new
generation
of
innovators—

who
are
already
the
most
technology‐hungry
group
of
children
the
world
has
ever
seen—it’s
not
going

to
be
done
by
shoving
their
noses
into
a
dull
textbook
that’s
seen
few
major
changes
since
the
1970s.


Contrary
to
how
people
label
themselves
as
being
(or
not
being)
a
“math
person”
or
a
“techie”,
passion

for
these
subjects
is
not
a
genetic
trait.

If
we
are
to
truly
foster
the
next
innovation
revolution,
parents,

teachers,
school
administrators,
politicians,
and
business
leaders
must
come
together
to
make
STEM

education
a
priority.


Questions?


Contact:
Domenic
Giandomenico

Director,
Education
and
Workforce
Programs

Institute
for
a
Competitive
Workforce

Phone:
202‐463‐5764

Email:
domenic@uschamber.com



SAMPLE
OP‐ED
ON
ALTERNATIVE
CERTIFICATION
FOR
STEM
TEACHERS


Shannon
Smith
is
an
experienced
corporate
trainer
who
has
worked
at
high
technology
companies

throughout
her
distinguished
career.

She
holds
a
bachelor’s
degree
in
physics
and
a
master’s
degree
in

education.

At
this
point
in
Smith’s
career,
she
would
like
to
embark
upon
a
new
challenge
by
helping
a

new
generation
of
children
reach
their
fullest
potential
by
becoming
an
algebra
teacher
at
her
local,

urban
public
school.




Smith
plans
on
making
her
class
more
interactive
than
what
you
usually
find
in
an
algebra
class
by

incorporating
some
of
the
real‐world
problems
she
has
encountered
during
her
career
within
her
lesson

plans.

She
wants
to
do
this
to
answer
the
age
old
question,
“Why
do
I
really
need
to
learn
this?”
to

simply
bring
a
sense
of
life
and
wonder
to
a
subject
often
considered
dull
by
students.

She
envisions

spending
time
in
the
classroom
talking
about
all
the
wonderful
careers
and
opportunities
that
the

students
might
pursue
if
they
continue
in
math
and
science.


Unfortunately,
Smith
isn’t
qualified
to
do
this,
at
least
not
according
to
the
government.

Despite
already

having
a
master’s
degree
in
education
and
many
years
of
teaching
adults,
she
would
need
to
take

additional
courses
in
subjects
such
as
pedagogy
and
classroom
management.

She
would
also
need
to

take
more
math
courses,
even
though
she
has
an
undergraduate
degree
in
a
field
that
requires
very

advanced
math.




In
light
of
the
well‐stated
need
to
bring
more
math
and
science
teachers
into
our
public
schools,
it

makes
no
sense
that,
for
someone
with
Smith’s
credentials,
there
would
be
so
many
hurdles
for

someone
like
Smith
to
enter
into
teaching.

People
who
clearly
have
a
mastery
over
the
subject
matter

and
have
a
passion
to
educate
should
be
given
incentives
to
do
so.

Children,
particularly
those
in
low‐
income
or
rural
areas,
rarely
get
the
opportunity
to
meet
science
and
math
professionals.

As
such,
they

lose
out
on
opportunities
to
get
excited
about
having
a
career
in
those
fields.

Having
such
a
teacher

could
be
the
very
thing
that
inspires
them
to
be
the
next
Dean
Kaman
or
Mark
Zuckerberg.




Smith
isn’t
alone
in
her
desire
to
become
a
public
school
teacher.

There
are
many
career
engineers,

chemists,
and
other
accomplished
professionals
from
math
and
science
fields
who
would
love
to
start
a

new
career
as
a
molder
of
young
minds.

This
desire
is
so
great,
that
even
corporations
like
IBM
have

begun
programs
to
help
their
employees
return
to
the
classroom.

IBM’s
Transition
to
Teaching
program

provides
stipends
up
to
$15,000
to
help
fund
an
employee’s
education
and
field
work
if
they
want
to
be

a
teacher.




This
program,
nevertheless,
has
only
been
successful
because
of
IBM’s
sheer
force
of
will.

In
getting
the

program
off
the
ground,
the
company
put
enormous
effort
into
convincing
schools
of
education
to
alter

their
programs
for
career
professionals.

In
other
cases,
they
lobbied
state
departments
of
education
or

state
legislatures
to
create
more
flexible
laws
around
alternative
certification.

In
other
words,
to
enter

teaching,
someone
like
Smith
would
have
to
have
a
behemoth
multi‐national
corporation
behind
her,

which
is,
unfortunately,
not
a
luxury
most
of
us
have.



None
of
this
is
to
say
that
an
engineer
can
or
should
be
able
to
just
walk
out
of
his
or
her
lab
and
into
a

classroom.

Classroom
management
is
an
art
that
even
many
veteran
teachers
struggle
with,
and

developing
a
classroom
curriculum
isn’t
as
easy
as
pulling
something
off
the
shelf.

These
things
aren’t,

however,
issues
that
require
multiple
years
of
education
to
resolve.

They
can
be
alleviated
with

mentorship
programs
and
intensive
professional
development.

To
this
point,
schools
of
education
and

state
governments
have
been
largely
unwilling
to
provide
this
kind
of
flexibility.

Federal
law,
namely
the

Elementary
and
Secondary
Education
Act,
also
needs
to
take
a
sensible
approach
to
alternative
teacher

certification,
especially
with
regard
to
the
high‐need
science,
technology,
engineering,
and
math
fields.


In
the
end,
it’s
not
Smith
or
the
IBM
engineer
who
loses
in
this
scenario
—
both
can
continue
in
their

current
jobs
and
continue
to
earn
a
far
better
salary
than
a
teacher
does.

Instead,
it’s
the
children
who

will
be
taught
by
someone
who
lacks
the
real‐world
expertise
and
passion
for
math
that
Smith
has
who

will
lose.

It’s
the
school
that
will
be
deprived
of
the
opportunity
to
infuse
new
ideas,
new
strengths,
and

new
life
into
its
culture.

It’s
our
society
that
will
lose
yet
another
chance
at
developing
the
next
great

innovator.

While
it’s
important
to
ensure
that
every
teacher
is
well‐qualified
to
be
guiding
our
children

to
their
futures,
we
need
to
bring
some
common
sense
to
the
issue
and
find
better,
less
obstructive

ways
to
bring
career
professionals
back
into
the
classroom.


Questions?


Contact:
Domenic
Giandomenico

Director,
Education
and
Workforce
Programs

Institute
for
a
Competitive
Workforce

Phone:
202‐463‐5764

Email:
domenic@uschamber.com