Q: Why is it important for government and industry to advance K-12 STEM education innovations in the United States
today, and what can they do to improve that education?
A: Industry and government support is crucial to help the United States become a leader in K-12 STEM education—and they can leverage a key tool that is already in hand.
There is consensus in the United States that we do not produce enough scientists and engineers. And there is consensus in the United States that this can be remedied by strengthening K-12 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. But to upgrade STEM education—and to broaden its appeal to a larger number of students—government and industry must work together to upgrade our education system, which we agree is not working adequately.
The data is clear: American students do not perform as well in math and science as students in many other countries. For the present, the United States is remedying this weakness in part by attracting high-performing high school graduates from other countries to study at U.S. universities. Many of those students will stay in the United States after graduation, U.S. visa policy permitting, becoming a key part of the next generation of engineers, scientists and educators. But this de facto method of addressing our weakness in STEM education may not be sustainable in an era when governments, industries and universities in other parts of the world are making ever more attractive offers for their citizens to return home after earning their degrees here.
Strengthening K-12 education will meet several critical and urgent U.S. national goals:
It will meet the needs of the U.S. government, including and especially national security. From cybersecurity to intelligence, U.S. national security will become ever more reliant on expertise that only STEM fields can provide.