Tapping America's Potential: The Education for Innovation Initiative
August 24, 2005
The Business Roundtable
Yes, you've seen myriad manifestos, statements, studies, and reports about the country's need to do more to sustain its leadership in science and technology, but please suppress that yawn. This one is different. This time, fifteen leading business groups have sounded the alarm, and have done so with oomph, facts, and plenty of anxiety showing. This new report notes, for example, that China is graduating four times as many engineers as the United States; that fewer than 6 percent of today's college-bound high school seniors plan to pursue such a degree; that even South Korea is graduating as many engineers as we are. Though the report praises NCLB (whose science-testing requirement kicks in next year), it contends that school reform is "necessary but insufficient" and that urgent attention is also needed to other vital changes, including an overhaul of the preparation and compensation of science/math teachers, expedited security clearances for those aspiring to careers in science and technology, a boost in federal spending for basic research, and more. In effect, this report says that, if America's future safety and prosperity are going to hinge on our prowess in science, engineering, and technology (rather than our proficiency with plows and assembly lines), we must urgently ready ourselves to succeed in that world, mindful that the rest of the planet isn't just installing call centers and low-wage garment factories; it's also investing in the human capital and research infrastructure needed for scientific leadership. This short but compelling report deserves your attention, as does the breadth of business leadership participation in it. You can access the press release and link to the report's full text by surfing to http://www.businessroundtable.org/newsroom/Document.aspx?qs=5876BF807822B0F1AD1448722FB51711FCF50C8.