Seeing the Round Corners

May 1, 2017

For the next few weeks, columns from the archives will appear while this writer takes a break to get a brand new shoulder. Enjoy!

   Today’s column begins a four-part series on Prospering that appeared back in 2012 that seems appropriate for the Trump Administration’s goal of “Make America Great Again.”

PROSPERING IN THE 21st CENTURY  October 8, 2012

Today’s edition will present information from the study/report requested by the National Academies titled Rising Above the Gathering Storm:  Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future (hereinafter the Gathering Storm). The Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century (the Committee) prepared the Gathering Storm in response to the following questions posed by two Congressional Committees:

  • What are the top ten actions, in priority order, that federal policymakers could take to enhance the science and technology enterprise so that the United States can successfully compete, prosper and be secure in the global community of the 21stentury?
  • What strategy, with several concrete steps, could be used to implement each of those actions?

   The Committee acknowledged America’s pride in its economy and the foundational basis for the country’s high quality of life, national security, greater opportunities and a better life for our children and grandchildren.

Inherent and vital for such improvement and greater opportunities is recognition of the necessity for high-quality, knowledge-intensive jobs and the “innovative enterprises that lead to discovery and new technology.”

Globalization has significantly impacted the U. S. economic and strategic leadership as the information-technology revolution spread since World War II. The American workforce has found itself to be in competition with lower-wage workers around the globe. The Committee also acknowledged that “leading-edge scientific and engineering work is being accomplished in many parts of the world,” but made no correlation to the massive outsourcing of American jobs.

Point-of-Information: The Committee’s report was presented some years before the recent “Buy America/Made in America” movement gained such momentum. The original report/study was released in 2005, then revisited in 2007 to determine the status and progress in implementation of the recommendations.

The Committee identified two challenges that are tightly coupled to scientific and engineering prowess:

  • creating high-quality jobs for Americans; and
  • responding to the nation’s need for clean affordable and reliable energy.

   Four basic recommendations were derived to address the challenges that focus on “the human, financial and knowledge capital necessary for U.S. prosperity.”  The Committee acknowledged that while investment in aspects such as changing laws and funding (both existing funding and requiring new funding) are quite modest when considering the magnitude of what they mean to the country in new high-quality jobs and responding to its energy needs. Emphasized in the report was that the Committee’s recommendations should be the subject of continuing education and refinement, not just a one-time effort.

The recommendations by the Committee were classified into four areas:

  • K-12 education (titled 10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds);
  • Research (Sowing the Seeds);
  • Higher Education (Best and Brightest); and
  • Economic Policy (Incentives for Innovation).

K-12 Education: Increase America’s talent pool by vastly improving K-12 science and mathematics education.

A-1: Annually recruit 10,000 science and mathematics teachers by awarding 4-year scholarships and thereby educating 10 million minds – each teacher is viewed as impacting 1,000 students over the course of their teaching career.

The program proposed by the Committee to attract students:

  • awarding 4-year scholarships for students to obtain degrees in physical or life sciences, engineering or mathematics with concurrent certification as K-12 science and mathematics teachers;
  • merit-based scholarships providing up to $20,000.00 a year for four years for qualified education expenses (tuition and fees), with a requirement that students commit to five years of service in public K-12 schools;
  • offer a $10,000.00 annual bonus to teachers in underserved schools in inner cities and rural areas; and
  • incentives to universities and colleges would involve matching grants on a one-to-one basis of $1 million a year up to five years, to as many as 100 universities and colleges to encourage the establishment of integrated four-year undergraduate programs for a bachelor’s degree in physical and life sciences, mathematics, computer sciences or engineering with teacher certification. Such program models of this type are U-Teach and California Teach.

   A-2: Strengthen the skills of 250,000 teachers through training and education programs at summer institutes, in master’s programs and in Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) training programs.

  • Summer institutes would afford 50,000 practicing teachers in one or two-week sessions, the opportunity to keep current with recent developments in science, mathematics and technology, and exchange of best teaching practices. The Committee recognized The Merck Institute for Science Education as the model for such a program;
  • Science and mathematics master’s programs where grants are given to research university to offer 50,000 current middle school and high school science, mathematics and technology teachers (with or without undergraduate science, mathematics or engineering degrees) two-year, part time master’s degree programs focusing on rigorous science and mathematics content and pedagogy (the art or science of teaching). The University of Pennsylvania is the model for this program;
  • Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) (training and pre-training) for 70,000 instructors in science and mathematics. Teachers would receive incentive payments for $1,800.00 per year and $100.00 for each student who passes an AP or IB exam in mathematics or science. Advanced Placement Incentive Program and Laying the Foundation ( pre-AB program) would serve as the model for such a program; and
  • K-12 Curriculum materials modeled on a world-class standard. Compile a voluntary national curriculum to be made available free of charge, to be accomplished via a national panel to collect, evaluate and develop rigorous K-12 materials. The Project Lead the Way pre-engineering courseware is a model for such a curriculum.

   A-3:  Broaden and enlarge the number of students prepared to enter college and graduate with a degree in science, engineering or mathematics. That would be accomplished by an increase in number of students who pass AP and IB science and mathematics courses. A goal was set for 2010 to increase the number of students taking at least an AP or IB mathematics or science exam by at least 1.5 million, tripling the numbers who pass those tests to 700,000. Incentives of 50% of examination fee rebates and mini-scholarships would be offered for passing scores.

Also recommended by the Committee were statewide specialty high schools where students are immersed in high-quality science, technology and mathematics education and serve as a mechanism to test teaching materials and also provide a training ground for K-12 teachers. Such schools also provide resources and staff for summer programs to get students interested in science and mathematics.

Inquiry-based learning is another method for middle-school and high school students to gain valuable laboratory experience through summer internships and research.

The reader's comments or questions are always welcome. E-mail me at