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Obama on Math, Science and Tech Education (page 2)

Obama on Math, Science and Tech Education

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Updated on Jan 26, 2011

Leaders in science, math, and tech education are encouraged by the proposed changes. “He’s planning on putting money behind these areas,” says Shari Liss, Education Director for Industry Initiatives for Science and Math Education (IISME). “Times are pretty exciting actually. It’s a real change from the Bush administration.”

Liss explains that much of the current problem with science, math, and tech education is tied to No Child Left Behind (NCLB). “In NCLB there has been a focus on teaching to tests, without a goal of true learning,” Liss says. “The Obama initiatives are written to support educators, reward innovation, tie in real-world connections, and focus on inquiry-based learning while enhancing and strengthening math, science and technology curriculum.”

Others, such as Vance Ablott, Executive Director of Triangle Coalition, are cautiously optimistic. Triangle Coalition works with policymakers, business leaders, and leaders in education to improve the quality and outcome of mathematics, science, and technology education. Ablott says Obama's plan is important. “He is committed to seeing an increase in science and math and tech education, and I think all of us are hopeful that that’s going to translate into a focus on the budget side,” he says.

Ablott, who also serves on the STEM Education Caucus steering committees for both the House and the Senate, is also realistic. “He’s proposing a lot of money, but given the current financial situation, I don’t know where that money comes from,” Ablott says. “It’s the right direction, the right words—we’ll just have to wait and see.”

Obama points to New York’s Math for America as an example of a program that has been successful in training highly qualified math teachers and placing them in high-needs schools. Ablott is uncertain about the feasibility of scaling up programs such as this on a national level.

“All we can hope for at the federal level is that you can incentivize states to implement these programs,” Ablott says. “You’re stuck with the limitations of the current education system, though. How that gets implemented across the country, I don’t know. And some states may or may not have the funding to do that sort of programming.”

Shari Liss agrees that funding is of concern. “Everything always sounds good for kids,” Liss says. “Now it’s just a matter of funding, isn't it?”

With the inauguration only a few weeks away, many parents and educators across the country are intently awaiting a fresh start to the New Year, when promises will finally be backed up with funding decisions.

What are Obama's other plans for education? Check out Obama on College Funding, Obama on Early Childhood Education, Obama on NCLB, Obama on School Choice, and Obama on Teacher Recruitment and Retention.

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