Another Sputnik Moment

It was the threat of the Soviets leapfrogging us with their launch of Sputnik that spurred America to refocus on creating a generation of the best mathematicians and scientists. And Houston, we have a problem. The nation that put the first footprints on the moon in 1969 and built amazing vehicles that transport humans to orbit the earth—the Space Shuttle—is losing an important race in American education.

For a variety of reasons we have lost that focus on math and science. But it appears we are longing to get it back. Pres. Obama had dinner in Woodside last week with a collection of gifted mathematicians and scientists who have all parlayed their acumen to become some of the most powerful people on the planet. There is no doubt individuals who are mathematically and scientifically at the top of their peer group have an outstanding opportunity to become highly compensated—with or without a college degree in the case of a few.

This week, speaking from Portland, Ore., Obama said: “Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education beyond high school, many requiring proficiency in math and science. And yet today we’ve fallen behind in math, science, and graduation rates. As a result, companies like Intel struggle to hire American workers with the skills that fit their needs.

“If we want to win the global competition for new jobs and industries, we’ve got to win the global competition to educate our people. We’ve got to have the best-trained, best skilled workforce in the world. That’s how we’ll ensure that the next Intel, the next Google, or the next Microsoft is created in America, and hires American workers.”

The president says he has made education a top priority and I believe he has. Yet I also believe Race to the Top is not the answer for becoming number one again in math and science education. Nor can we continue to nation-build in Afghanistan at the expense America’s children and our future prosperity.

With the best of intentions in California we have courageously tried to increase the number of 8th grade students taking Algebra 1 but the results are mixed at best. The good thing is we have raised expectations for all. A just-released EdSource study shows that those 8th graders not performing well in Algebra have a weaker foundation in math concepts. Building on a strong math foundation in the early grades in an essential part of the equation.

In a few months the 5th Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) will be administered globally in over 40 countries for 4th and 8th grade students. The first administration of the comparative assessment was done in 1995 and every four years thereafter. Only 6 percent of the United States 8th graders reached the TIMSS advanced International benchmark in mathematics in 2007 compared with 45 percent of 8th graders for Chinese Taipei, 40 percent for Republic of Korea and Singapore, 31 percent for Hong Kong SAR, 26 percent for Japan, 10 percent for Hungary, 8 percent for England and the Russian Federation. The content domains assessed on the 8th grade TIMSS for math are Number, Algebra, Geometry, Data and Chance. The cognitive domains assessed are Knowing, Applying, and Reasoning. 

My fear as an educator who cares deeply about math preparedness for all students is that the U.S. scores in 2011 will take us to new low levels compared with our international cohorts. I hope this is not true, but it is my prediction based on less time spent on math and science since 2007 due to budget cuts, reduction of school days, hours etc.

My recommendations include:

• Promote national standards in mathematics.
• More grouping by skill level in math, making certain we continue to challenge the most gifted thinkers in math and science. While at the same time ensuring that all students are strongly prepared in foundational arithmetic skills, even if we require a longer school day for some.  Use technology and computers to help teach basic skills.
• We must assure that all teachers, including all elementary teachers have skills that are highly proficient to teach math and science.
• Use the best research to improve teacher education, training and professional development in math and science instruction.
• Give the weakest math students the best math teachers.
• Raise the salaries for math and science teachers, especially in middle schools.
• Increase salaries for those math and science teachers that teach in high poverty districts/schools.
• Develop a new math and science credential for teachers who teach math and science in the elementary schools.
• Keep students with same math and science teacher for multiple years.

Joseph Di Salvo is a member of the Santa Clara County Office of Education’s Board of Trustees. He is a San Jose native. His columns reflect his personal opinion.

53 Comments

  1. I agree with Di Salvo !
    Our nation was ‘great’ back in the 1950’s , 1960’s . After world war 2 , the Moon Shot was an innovation that America exceeded in during the cold war .

    It’s a sad fact that America is retiring the Space Shuttle . It’s the only vehicle that created the ISS (international space station ) . Pres. Obama lollygagged NASA cutting it’s budget , and passed the buck $$$ to private industry to develop the next space transport . The Private sector may be ‘years’ away for their own space craft . So far one one developer made flight with Space Ship one .

    China is still behind us . They are at the same level as we were in the 1960’s with manned space flight . Russia still has the rocket power to launch a craft back to the moon with people .

    America should take the next leap ,
    yes Mr. Di Salvo your ideas are on the ball!

    • “It’s a sad fact that America is retiring the Space Shuttle.”

      Here is the polar opposite of a ‘sputnik’ moment…

      Mr Bolden said: “When I became the Nasa administrator, he [Mr Obama] charged me with three things.

      “One, he wanted me to help reinspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.”

      Sadly enough, the above is not from the Onion.

      http://bit.ly/bdlTS4

  2. • Promote national standards in mathematics.

    Given the content of our Constitution, no justification exists for the federal government to assume the power to set scholastic standards for students whose education is already administered at the state level.

    • More grouping by skill level in math, making certain we continue to challenge the most gifted thinkers in math and science. While at the same time ensuring that all students are strongly prepared in foundational arithmetic skills, even if we require a longer school day for some.  Use technology and computers to help teach basic skills.

    Grouping according to math skill will result in disproportion according to race and gender, a violation of the Diversity Commandment (I forget which number it is). Plus, it will destine the mathematically-gifted to be humiliated in basketball.

    • We must assure that all teachers, including all elementary teachers have skills that are highly proficient to teach math and science.

    This recommendation implies that we have unqualified teachers today, something that was not true just a few decades ago. What aspect of the progressive reorganization of our educational system was responsible for that?

    • Use the best research to improve teacher education, training and professional development in math and science instruction.

    Must we really rely on the latest research to know what we absolutely knew fifty years ago, when our school teachers turned out the fellows who took us to the moon?

    • Give the weakest math students the best math teachers.

    No, give the weakest math students the teachers best suited for weak students, just as we provide Special Ed students with teachers trained in Special Ed. It takes a special person to remain sane while spending three years teaching fractions to the same class of dullards. For the best math students, those destined to contribute the most to our economy, give them teachers trained to deal with uncommon talent, teachers who know how to direct but otherwise get out of the way of raw ability.

    • Raise the salaries for math and science teachers, especially in middle schools.

    Given the realities of the budget, this recommendation constitutes an unsolvable math problem.

    • Increase salaries for those math and science teachers that teach in high poverty districts/schools.

    There is no cause and effect relationship between living in a poor neighborhood and being a slow learner. If you want to properly reward teachers for being stuck with challenging students, call it what it is: combat pay for teaching Blacks and Hispanics.

    • Develop a new math and science credential for teachers who teach math and science in the elementary schools.

    These credentials are destined to be distributed to satisfy someone’s idea of proportion, thus making them as meaningless as professional educators have made the high school diploma and the bachelor’s degree.

    • Keep students with same math and science teacher for multiple years.

    Utilizing this approach hasn’t made scholars out of the kids serving sentences at CYA, and not utilizing it hasn’t seem to hurt the cream of the crop who annually max out the SATs. Smells like wishful thinking.

    • These educrats with their elusive goals remind me of Wile E. Coyote and his futile efforts to catch the Roadrunner. Easily frustrated by setbacks they quickly give on each new program and go out and buy a shiny new ‘ACME Triple Power Miracle Education System’.
      And as expected it always blows up in their face.

  3. I love the idea of keeping students with one teacher for multiple years.  Adolescence is a time of uncertainty and insecurities.  Helping students develop a relationship with a teacher and a class will enable a student to be comfortable in class and concentrate on academics, instead of a changing environment.  At the elementary level, teachers should challenge students and check for understanding after each lesson is taught.  Teachers should not be rushed through the curriculum in order to reach a goal set by standardized tests.  Other countries teach fewer topics in math and science through the year compared to the U.S.  These countries go in depth with students on each topic and ensure complete understading.  These students thoroughly understand the information taught and are not rushed through a chapter per week without retaining information.  It is essential that teachers have a firm understanding of math and science concepts before explaining them to students.  Strict credential requirements for multiple subject as well as science and math are essential for teachers to explain these topics well.

    • sabina:

      You may be a very nice person, and kind to pets, and a person who puts recyclables in the right bins, but on matters or education policy and practice, you are profoundly and deeply detached from reality.

      This is pure utopian psychobabble.

      Society is NOT going to provide each child an exclusive, dedicated, lifetime teacher so the senistive little dears don’t experience “uncertainty and insecurities”.

      Nor should it.  Unless you want a society of spoiled, narcissistic psychopaths.

      • Hey Teachable Moment, here is a teachable moment for you! Your statement about “Society is NOT going to provide each child an exclusive, dedicated, lifetime teacher…” was incorrected and just nto needed. In Sabina’s post she said an elementary teacher should stay with their class for mulitple years NOT a lifetime. Another funny thing is that the writer of this blog mentioned that it might be better for students if a elementary teacher stayed with them muiltiple years. Just because you have a nasty opinion about someone elses post doesn’t mean you have to express it!

        • > Just because you have a nasty opinion about someone elses post doesn’t mean you have to express it!

          And, of course, self-centered left wingers like Davide G assume that THEY have the exclusive right to determine what is a “nasty opinion” and, therefore, who gets to express their opinions and who doesn’t.

          Message to David: I think you’re opinions are nasty, and, if you believe in your own advice, you should keep them to yourself.

        • I love how you can determine whether or not I am A. Self Centered and B. A “Left-Winger from one of my post. But if you want to comment on my post at least make sure you spell my name right since you did spell it right once. Yes I do have the right to determine what I THINK is a nasty comment and when so called “Teachable Moment” says, and I quote, “but on matters or education policy and practice, you are profoundly and deeply detached from reality.” you then say my comment is nasty? So therefore I BELIEVE that my comment was just and fair because of the statement Teachable Moment posted! Just like what most of our parents and grade school teachers taught us, if you don’t have nothing nice to say then you shouldn’t say anything at all!

    • I’m at a school where they teach only 1 hour of science (sometimes none at all) a day.  The kids are drilled with hours of Language Arts.  Although reading/vocabulary skills are very important, students need variety in learning.

      • Nancy T:

        An excellent illustration of how the education establishment delivers what it HAS rather than providing what students NEED.

        It’s like going to the hardware store to buy a hammer, and since they don’t have any hammers, they try to sell you a bag of fertilizer.

        “We have salesmen who are experts in fertilizer, and everyone needs some fertilizer.”

        • I would like to address the idea that America’s educators as a whole were truly focused on math and science in the 1950’s and 1960’s. I believe that it was not because we were more advanced as a country in our depth of education in this regard, rather, it was because there were less developed countries at the time. Had we had the same competition 50 and 60 years ago, my guess is that we would not have been able to compete in math and science (we had less educated people, less people graduating from college and more illiteracy then). It was simply that the playing field was light. I truly don’t believe we were doing anything better in our traditional education. We *were* doing it better at the level of undergraduate and graduate research. Just like today, many of the folks in our ivy leagues and best research institutions “came up” through the ivy-league prep system. Now, with the increase of students going to University, we have simply highlighted what was probably not working all along, whether in 1951 or 2011.  hey say if it isn’t broken, do not fix it. But the truth is, it has always been broken; now, we can more clearly see the cracks, which, simply put, are the ratio of students to resources.  Small classroom sizes, solid teachers, and extra tutoring, not to mention deeper and richer life experience on the whole, set-up students from higher SE backgrounds and private schooling for better success. Our student population now outweighs our resources. If we increase our resources there is a higher probability we increase math and science proficiency. We are competing globally, now, more than ever before. Resources require funding, and alot of it. I am in accord with the suggestion because, as of now, the reality is while we lack funding, we can use strategy. It’s the best we can do, for now. Thanks!

      • Nancy-

        I agree that students need variety in learning. Many elementary schools believe that math and language arts are much more important than science. When I was in elementary school, we only had science instruction two, maybe three times per week! I have always had an interest in science and was quite disappointed at how little we got to learn about it in school. My elementary school teachers also focused on language arts and math the most, which unfortunately led me to dislike these subjects at the time because there was no variety or other subjects being focused on as much.

        Allie

  4. I think our nation needs a new challenge to rally around.  We already know who our biggest competitor is (China)…so why not find a new way to inspire and challenge not only our youth, but our nation as well?  Sending a man to the moon was, for many, an impossible dream, but our country did it and gave a nation hope to do the impossible. I feel it is time for a new American challenge…What should that challenge be?  I’m not sure.  Perhaps minds greater than mine can come up with some suggestions.  I’ll provide a few: Manned mission to Mars, working towards self-sufficiency in this country in ten years (ie. growing and manufacturing enough products to sustain us- this would mean the American population would not only need to do said manufacturing and growing, but also be willing to live with more needs and less wants) A new transportation system (space cars—think Jetsons) I’m sure there are a million more ideas out there… Wouldn’t it be amazing to have a goal that could shape not only our youth, but our society at large.

  5. I agree that as a country we have fallen drastically behind in math and science compared to other nations around the globe. Sadly, we are also declining in literacy, i.e. reading and writing and this will need to be addressed as well. National standards would help to ensure that each school in any state is on the same page when it comes to teaching any subject area. I believe that before we impose national standards it must be agreed upon that these standards are challenging as well as fair. There needs to be some flexibility within the standards that allows teachers to adapt the standards to meet the specific needs of special populations such as English Language Learners. Teachers also need to be allowed to build upon the standards and to expand upon them when it is in the best interest of the students.

    Any standards that are implemented need to be based on proven, peer reviewed, reliable, and replicable educational research. In the case of math, it has been proven that children gain a greater understanding of mathematical concepts when they have opportunities to experience math in a hands on way. Marilyn Burns has excellent ideas for teaching math to students in way that makes it comprehensible to all students. Burns is a big proponent of using a multi-sensory approach to teach mathematics. That means using manipulatives to allow the students to explore math in a variety of ways. The amount manipulatives are used in the classroom begins to decrease in the upper grades; however, it has been shown that manipulatives are equally useful to older children as well as to adults. It is essential that the most patient teachers are given the students who struggle in math. It is vital that these teachers are also skilled in teaching math and are capable of explaining concepts in a variety of ways. This will ensure that all students will be able to comprehend the material being taught.

    Group work has been proven to be a valuable way to help reinforce learning and to help support varied learning styles. Group work allows students to engage with one another. In math, group work is an excellent way to help students gain confidence in their mathematical ability. It is important when assigning group work, in any subject area, that the groups are not homogeneously grouped by skill level. Groups need to be grouped heterogeneously because the students will be able to help one another. Groups that are varied in skill level will allow the more skilled students to help scaffold the less skilled students so that every group member can complete the assigned task (Vygotsky, ZPD and all that).

    Science should be a part of every elementary school curriculum as it provides students with opportunities to develop and use valuable cognitive skills such as prediction, forming hypotheses, and other inquiry skills. Science can be used in any classroom regardless of a student’s native language. Any student can participate in science because it is a hands-on, inquiry based process that allows students to construct their own knowledge.

    While it is important to reward those teachers who are teaching science and math in high school, it is equally important to support and reward elementary school teachers who are building the foundational concepts of mathematics. These foundational skills and concepts will be what will support all students when they reach the higher levels of math.

    There is merit in keeping students with the same teacher for a period of a few years. Looping, when used properly, can greatly benefit students, especially in elementary school. It has been shown to allow them to make substantial gains in literacy as well as in math. There is no evidence to support that it creates students who are “spoiled, narcissistic, psychopaths”. I fail to see how such an unfounded, opinion based criticism can be touted as fact.

  6. I do believe that science is often left out of the bigger picture in education. In a typical school day, the majority of time is dedicated to language arts, English language development, and/or math. Although I agree with many of the points to help students make gains and promote science and math, I cannot help to raise the question, how can we implement these ideas?

  7. It is without a doubt that our education system has fallen drastically in comparison to other countries.  I believe the focus for schools today, are to teach to the test so that their schools get better test scores rather than worrying about helping students become better members of society and well rounded individuals. 
      I think that it is very important to promote math and science skills in schools and to get students excited about these subjects.  However, I don’t believe that grouping by skill level in math is going to benefit students, or help the achievement gap.  At the school I am at now, math groups are homogeneously grouped.  It is really frustrating for me to watch these students.  They know they are in the lower math group, and they are even less motivated to learn.  Thus creating an even larger gap from the higher math class and their class.  Throughout the year, they have taken their time on certain lessons, however, now that we are getting closer to testing, they are rushing to try to get through materials, which does not benefit the students or the school. 
    After taking my curriculum in math class, at San Jose State, it has really inspired me to go in depth with math and has opened my eyes to how working in groups really benefits students and their learning process.  Math can be such an interesting, and exciting topic to teach if everyone knew how to teach it and how to engage students in it.
      I think having the option for students loop with their teacher, could be beneficial in some cases.  It allows students to already know expectations and it allows teachers to already know how each individual learns and how to approach different problems.  A teacher should be dedicated to help students succeed.

  8. Honestly, the MAIN REASON why this country sucks at education is because families suck at raising their children. Ok, I know this is harsh, but there is so much evidence… EVERYWHERE! what does a mother do when the child starts crying because he/she doesn’t want to do homework? she says, “stop crying and go play video games!”

    The problem, as was discussed in a previous blog, is the home. in so many families, both parents are working and in most families, kids are SPOILED. there, i said it. I haven’t seen any society that spoils their kids more than America. In the rest of the world, where people live on WAY less then the average american, kids are not nearly as spoiled as kids here. Why is that? Why are american parents so eager to please their children instead of disciplining them?

    The president stated that we need to improve more on math and science. well at the rate that this country is going and the spoiled attitude that so many kids have, this country will be behind in all subjects and then not even a billion dollars will do anything to help. Heck, not even billions of dollars can do anything now. Kids need to learn discipline and hard work. This shouldn’t be taught at the schools, but at the home. And if the home is unable to do that, then the problem is bigger. People need to stop striving to own more and more and more and more junk. instead, they should spend time on what matters most.

    whatever, this country has too many problems.

  9. I agree with DiSalvo that we definitely need to make an effort to ensure that our students are learning as much math and science as they are language arts. Although the one idea that I differ on is that he suggested that we should implement a new credential for teachers that will teach primarily science and math in elementary schools.  I disagree because I truly believe that, especially early elementary, students must form a close bond with their teacher.  If they are changing teachers throughout the day, similar to middle school, they will not have the sense of familiarity with their classroom teacher.

  10. With the population makeup of California today, most classrooms are filled with English Language Learners.  Even if there is enough time in the day and enough money to support it, it’s tough to teach things like math and science when some students can barely speak English.  I can see why the school day is heavily concentrated on Language Arts and Reading. I’m not saying that this is the way it should be, because I strongly believe in the importance of having math and science, among other subjects, taught in schools. However, this is the reality in many schools.  Unless students have a good grasp on the reading part, an English math or science book doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.  Teachers don’t have a lot of choice when it comes to dedicating less time to Language Arts and Reading – “Learning to Read” must come before “Reading to Learn”.

  11. I agree that science has lost it’s “importance” in classrooms. The school I’m at right now focuses so much on Language Arts and Math, everything else kind of gets slipped in when they can. And you know why? It’s all about scores and money, I think it’s sad that that’s what education has come down to. American schools, especially in California, have become so focused on a couple of subjects, everything else gets put on the back burner. You go to other countries, their kids are taking more than 6 subjects daily, maybe up to 11 a week, and they are rotated. Okay- maybe that’s a little much to try here, but why do we only value one or two subjects, why is everything else unimportant? Education is sadly falling into the trap that most institution in America have, and it’s not getting any better. My hope would be to see gradual changes in the country’s school system.

    • I completely agree. At my school, the teachers are under pressure to raise their test scores and some have resorted to teach to the test. With that in mind, there is a focus on Language Arts and Math with minimal attention paid to the other subjects. Furthermore, the students are not really gaining an in-depth understanding of a broad range of concepts nor are they developing higher-order thinking skills. Continuing this type of curriculum will not prepare students for the other subjects and needed skills that they will encounter in high school and beyond. Throughout elementary school, students should receive a well-rounded education. Also, what about the students whose strengths are in science and history? It is not fair to limit their potential (and the other students’) by narrowly focusing on the tested subjects. Change is definitely needed.

  12. What I remember about learning math was find the correct answer. While you had to show your work, did that really mean you had a good conceptual understanding of how you got the answer? In a recent course I took at SJSU, Dr. Patty Swanson probably taught me more about conceptual understanding in math than I learned in all my years as a student. I was also exposed to how math curriculum is taught in the elementary schools. We try to teach too many standards without allowing enough time to teach them effectively. Teachers end up rushing through them to ensure they cover all the required standards. As students advance to the next grade they quickly review what they don’t know, and it’s taught in the same manner. My question is why to we try to teach so much, and then when students don’t learn we continue to teach in the same manner? In my opinion it’s more important to teach less so students can get a conceptual understanding and then build off that. It’s critical that this start in the primary grade. Without it does not matter if students are taking Algebra in 8th grade or not because we are only setting them up to fail.

  13. I belive that math and science should be taught more in schools because more and more of todays jobs are requiring math and science skills. I do agree that reading and writing are two major components to learning but for students to get a job in todays world they will need a very strong back ground in math and science. If those students did not recieve the proper foundatino of math and science then they will not be proficient enough to secure a god job.

  14. I like your list of recommendations for promoting better math and science instruction.  I especially am interested by the idea of having a math and science credential for elementary level teachers.  I think we could benefit from teachers that are highly trained in the math and science fields.  I am nervous about teaching math as an elementary school teacher, because my own proficiency in math could be better.  One math methods class in the credential program is probably not enough to make me an excellent math teacher.

  15. I agree with the following recommendation: “More grouping by skill level in math, making certain we continue to challenge the most gifted thinkers in math and science. While at the same time ensuring that all students are strongly prepared in foundational arithmetic skills, even if we require a longer school day for some. Use technology and computers to help teach basic skills.” I think it is very important to ensure we continue to challenge those students who are advanced in math and science as well as other content areas.

    • I have seen first that grouping by skill level in math can be beneficial.  I work in the Milpitas Unified School District and this year they have put more grouping by skill level for math in place- students go to different rooms during a scheduled math time and work on math at their individual level.  The advanced students can excel and the struggling students get the help they need.
      Another idea that I have seen positive results in is keeping the student with the same teacher.  I have seen seen this practice, which some school districts call looping, where the students have the same teacher for more than one year.  So much more time is put into teaching the students by skipping all the transition time of getting to know the students.

  16. In my opinion, the problem with teaching math at elementary schools nowadays is that they don’t teach children conceptual understanding. In order for math to “make sense” in children’s minds, they need to understand why they should remember formulas or definitions that way. Also, the time slot for math and science is too little compared to that for language arts. No wonder our kids are still bad at math and science!

  17. It is a shame how little science children get in the classrooms nowadays. I have been subbing regularly for a kindergarten class and three weeks ago I did a science lesson with these kids. Today, I subbed again and the teacher had me do the next lesson after the kids hadn’t seen the material for three weeks. I couldn’t believe it. The kids don’t have time to build the thinking skills that science promotes. I wasted most of the time reminding them of vocabulary, and it is a shame because they were excited to do a science lesson.

  18. America’s retirement of the space shuttle is sign of how far our country have taken science for granted. Our journey into the unknown is no longer a priority. This is sad because our future generation will be greatly affected by this unfortunate event. Once again, a politician is spewing promises of how he will make education a priority, but I highly disagree. He has made many promises and have broken them without any qualms. I fear what the future will hold for our children when we as society do not put them first.

  19. After reading some of these comments. I think that there is a ‘illusion’ created by many right wing groups that America has ‘fallen behind other nations’ .the statistics are not valid to say that education failed in America . The Problem is rooted in industry . Creating those jobs that are part of the scientific field.
    . America has lost the spirit of competitiveness ,and innovation .
    . Remember China learned for ‘us’ thanks for spy’s , for USA selling scientific goods to China . We built China and Japan . 

    So as to education to whom is America trying to exceed ?

    China , Japan . ( name any European nation ? ). How about Saudi Arabia , all of Africa?
    All of us need to think when it comes to Math and Science.

    • The Problem is rooted in industry

      Exactly.  Every engineering job we outsource is lost knowledge, skill, and training for Americans.  Even worse, it allows the companies intellectual property to be stolen which undercuts American competiveness, and it provides training for foreign engineers, some of which is then applied to their military. 

      Outsourcing of engineering jobs is wasted opportunity for America.  Its only purpose is to easily allow executives to achieve their bonus goals, and make their stock options worth more.  Other than that, outsourcing engineering jobs is destroying America.

      In essence, by outsourcing we are paying foreign governments to develop economic and military weapons against us.  Personally, I consider outsourcing of engineering jobs as treason, and it is time to start treating executives as the traitors they are.

      • > Its only purpose is to easily allow executives to achieve their bonus goals, and make their stock options worth more.

        They’re called “performance incentives”, and it’s part of free market capitalism.

        You got a problem with freedom?

        Do you think corporate employers of engineers should be run like the government, or even the public education system?

        How much do you think your American made TV set would cost if the corporate executives held endless meetings like the SCCOE listening to overpaid consultants tell them that they needed to “develop a plan”?

        Those traitor executives you want to put in jail probably get their bonuses for making sure that their company actually delivers TV’s.

        • > TVs?  This blog is talking about the future of the United States, and you are talking about TVs.  Wow!

          Actually, I was talking about incentives.

          But you missed the point.

          You were educated in the public schools. Right? And, you’re probably a teacher, too. Correct?

  20. I believe the main problem is that children are not getting enough math and science lecture time in the classroom, starting with kindergarten and up. School is not about learning anymore, but about getting children ready for state testing. What a shame, schools have cut down on sports, art, and other activities students liked before and were looking forward to going to school for those classes and school overall. No learning can be done, when the teacher is drilling about how to have their students pass proficient or advanced on their state mandate test, instead of focusing on teaching them about their subject and getting them ready for the next grade.

    • I completely agree with you. Students aren’t getting what they need out of their education when the focus in the classroom is raising test scores; that’s not an environment that is conducive to real learning and exploration. I don’t see how we can expect our students to be prepared to enter the next grade when time isn’t being spent teaching them the broad range of subjects that they really need to know.

  21. I strongly believe that math & science should be taught more in schools. Children must have a well rounded education to survive in today’s global economy. They should not only have oral & writing skills, but also be able to analyze information, think critically, problem solve & use inquiry to answer questions. That is why I think there should be stress on all subjects and enough time allocated to each of these content areas. Also, teaching to test is not going to benefit children.  Students need to have a deeper conceptual understanding in math & not just high scores.

  22. I believe the problem is that schools have become overrun with testing. Many schools are just trying to survive and teach to the test. It is no longer about the students, but about the tests. This has to change if we are going to improve in our academics whether it be in math, science, or other areas. With the influx of testing, many areas of the curriculum have been cut in order to make room for testing and areas that are taught are taught quickly and without any depth. Students know how to take a test, but will not remember anything they learned years from now. Even looking back on my own education, I know that it was severely lacking because I was taught to follow a formula and memorize rather than truly understanding concepts.

  23. I agree our education system is failing our students by not providing them with the high quality education they deserve.  The children in our schools are the future of our country and by not providing with the skills and education they need to prosper in the world beyond school we are doing them and our country a huge disservice.  Some of the ways these problems could be fixed by the government advocating more funding for our schools, providing students with a well rounded education (language arts, reading, math, science, history, music, art, and PE).  I also believe that having students stay with the same teacher for multiple years as it allows the teacher to really know their students and provides for a safe and secure learning environment for students.

  24. All of the recommendations proposed by DiSalvo regarding math and science teachers are valid. Unfortunately, many teachers (especially within the elementary school grades) do not have the necessary knowledge of math to successfully teach their students. I have come into many situations where my teacher does not know how to complete a math problem, let alone successfully teach it.  This is extremely disheartenIng because we want our children to have a fun and educational experience at school on a daily basis.

  25. ‘Building on a strong math foundation in the early grades in an essential part of the equation.” I totally agree with this quote from this blog. In order for students to have a success in higher levels of math they need to have a strong foundation in early grades. I think that for many years there has been teachers who do not have the skills and strategies needed to teach math and science. As a future teacher of tomorrow I think that we need to be trained in math and science to ensure that students are getting taught a strong foundation on these subjects. Having a credential in math and science should also be required for any given teacher in order to have them with the skills needed to teach students. Overall, I think that the recommendations DiSalvo offer can be successful but the question is when would this be done?

  26. My science curriculum professor was a principal at a local elementary school for several years.  She felt, very strongly, that students needed a science education.  Therefore, as principal she encouraged teachers to give students that opportunity.  To start, science was taught in the morning and all other subjects (including math and language arts) followed in the afternoon.  In addition, what teachers taught in math, language arts, P.E., etc. all connected with what students were working on in science.  As a result, science wasn’t pushed to the back burner.  Through integration, teachers made sure they had time for it.  I feel that this integration is key to finding the time each school day to cover every subject (including science).

    My science curriculum teacher also feels that teachers need to have a strong understanding of the science content in order to it teach to their students, like Joseph DiSalvo also mentioned above.  Therefore, through the credential program, we are being retaught science material in addition to learning about how to best teach it.  I feel that in doing this I will be better prepared to have science be a consistent part my classroom curriculum.

  27. I agree that math and science need to be taught more in schools. It is really sad that almost the entire day at school the teacher is teaching reading and language arts. This is of course very important, however we should spend time on other subjects as well. I think there is more time spent on math than on science in the classroom. I am currently taking a science class and one thing that the professor told me that I think is really sad is that unfortunately, “Science is not often taught as much as it should be and with NCLB you need to try and connect Science with reading, language arts or math.” Of course, it is good to connect one subject to another, however Science is just as important as the other two. Why can’t you just teach Science? I hope that one day this will change. All subjects are important and don’t we want our students to be well rounded?

  28. I think for the recommendations grouping children by skill level is a great way for children to continue to build upon their actively growing minds to challenge themselves. At the same time, I know from experience that being in a less advanced math group is pretty harsh and other children do notice the differences in classes so self esteem does plummet. An effective teacher must know how to handle these situations to ensure students that they are just as intelligent but may learn differently than other students. Grouping is probably the best solution, but there needs to be much more teacher training available.

  29. Math and science are adequate subjects and deserve attention at the elementary level, however, such strict standards and testing schedules pressure teachers into focusing solely on Language Arts and Reading. Incorporating science and reading, or math and language arts may be a simple solution until we find a more permanent solution.

  30. Yes i feel there should be a push for stronger mathematics and science across the board, but i don’t feel America’s Ego should be the motivating factor. This formula for motivation will leave many issues out of sight.

  31. Educating our students in general is a great thing and guiding them towards finishing some secondary education is essential for them to stand out and get hired.  In terms of science and mathematics though, the knowledge base they learn even in elementary school is weak because for many teachers it is their weakness as well and they don’t do what is needed to advance themselves and their students.  The mathematics classes for K-8 prep for teaching degree at SJSU for instance are a joke.  There is more to be learned from classes at community colleges in some cases.  Increasing standards for teachers is extraordinarily important so their knowledge comes from a confidence that can easily be passed down to students.