Glenn Panel Urges Reforms in Math, Science Education
Billups, Andrea, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Results have not kept pace with rhetoric, according to a report from a national panel on math and science education that calls for the nation to take immediate steps to improve the number, quality and work environment of its teachers.
"We spend much of our time talking about this topic and doing very little about it," said Craig R. Barrett, president and chief executive officer of Intel Corp. and one of the 25 members of the nonpartisan National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching, which released its final report yesterday.
"I think we are in a crisis, and time is the enemy," he said.
The report, called "Before It's Too Late," concluded that states and local school districts must get involved in vigorous reforms and support new incentives to bolster teacher education and student learning in an era of increasing competition spurred by technological advances and globalization.
Among the suggestions from the commission, led by NASA astronaut and former Sen. John Glenn, are increasing the teaching pool and providing better training through 15 university-based academies and summer training institutes held around the country. The Education Department's budget office estimates the cost of the plan at $5 billion.
The Glenn commission also called for incentives to stem the teacher shortage, such as 3,000 paid fellowships leading to certification in math and science, and 6,000 forgivable loans for students who consider those disciplines as a career. Mr. Glenn, who was asked to lead the panel by Education Secretary Richard W. Riley, called the nation's progress in math and science education "just plain unacceptable."
Speaking at a news conference held at the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, Mr. Glenn cited students' dismal showing on the 1996 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) math exam, in which more than a third scored below basic in math. He noted that while some progress has been made, U.S. students finished near last among 42 nations in the Third International Mathematics and Science Study.
"The gap must be closed, and we can do this," he said, reciting statistics he called "scary."
Sixty percent of all new jobs in the 21st century require skills possessed by only 20 percent of the work force, noted Mr. Glenn, who added that one-fourth of all U. …