Yesterday evening, President Obama issued the annual State of the Union address, which focused heavily on America remaining competitive and creating jobs—themes that align with BHEF’s two main initiatives: the Securing America’s Leadership in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Initiative; and the College Readiness, Access, and Success Initiative.
Innovation and education were two of the top priorities cited by President Obama to create more jobs and strengthen the economy. We wholeheartedly concur with this focus, which is inextricably tied to federal R&D investments and improving STEM education.
As a first step, we believe it is imperative to close the current mismatch between workforce needs and students’ career interests and preparation. This need is even more evident in light of the just-released results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress, or NAEP, which indicate that more than one-third of U.S. elementary and high-school students tested did not have even a basic understanding of science. It is clear that the current federal role in education has failed U.S. students by leaving science off the national agenda and that going forward, science must be included as part of a meaningful component of students’ education, and included in federal and state accountability measures.
Because R&D and education are drivers of economic prosperity, and because in this era of scarcity we must do more with less, it is imperative that everyone—government, educators, business leaders, and funders—join together to focus on the important challenges before us: supporting continued R&D investments, aligning student preparedness with workforce needs, and preserving critical programs that maintain student access to college and to the support they need to succeed once there.
We look forward to continuing to work with this administration, Congress and governors in a bipartisan effort to prepare the qualified workforce this country needs to compete in a global market.