We Should Be A Nation of Digital Opportunity for All

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ISTE has a wonderful template of the digital age learner. It works for those students lucky enough to be in the right environment, the right school, and with a teacher who is looking toward the future with academic support of new technology.

standards-poster-500full Here is the template. It is gorgeous. Get it for your school, for your community and for those who are interested in helping to create digital age learners.
The 2016 ISTE Standards for Students emphasize the skills and qualities we want for students, enabling them to engage and thrive in a connected, digital world. The standards are designed for use by educators across the curriculum, with every age student, with a goal of cultivating these skills throughout a student’s academic career. Both students and teachers will be responsible for achieving foundational technology skills to fully apply the standards. The reward, however, will be educators who skillfully mentor and inspire students to amplify learning with technology and challenge them to be agents of their own learning.

This is an amazing document that should be shared and given to school boards, community activist, informal education teachers, and parents. I have a powerpoint that explains all of these. How do we make the change to help “all students ” to have these skills and qualities?

Many schools and communities are  in denial about their state of technology . I live in Washington DC, and I heard the CTO of the city say that all of our students are being well served. This was at an IoT conference with global citizens. I didn’t know what to do or say. I assume that what she said , is what she was told by the school system in DC.

We the people, we the public, we the teachers need to be confrontational about the lack of those who are digitally denied.

We the teachers ,need to be educated toward the transformative policies that ISTE has shared. There are too many people who misunderstand. They think that all students are being well served.

On December 13, Free Press published Digital Denied: The Impact of Systemic Racial Discrimination on Home-Internet Adoption. The report, written by Free Press Research Director S. Derek Turner, examines the racial divide in home-internet adoption and exposes how structural racial discrimination contributes to it. Below is an edited summary of the report written by Dana Floberg — Free Press’ C. Edwin Baker fellow — and reprinted with permission.

Internet access is a necessity for engaging in our communities, searching for employment and seeking out educational opportunities — but too many people are still stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide. And that divide disproportionately impacts people of color.

Indeed, the racial divide in home-internet adoption — including both wired and wireless service — leaves people of color behind the digital curve. People of color comprise 32 million of the 69 million people in the United States who lack any form of home-internet access. Free Press research exposes this undeniable gap and explains how structural racial discrimination contributes to it.

Systemic discrimination creates serious income inequality in this country. Whites have far higher average incomes than Blacks or Latinos. Low-income families are less able and willing to buy internet subscriptions. And many families who are willing to pay for service find they can’t due to racially biased barriers like credit scoring. Given how stark racial and ethnic income discrepancies are, it’s no surprise that people of color lag behind in internet adoption.

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Income differences explain some of the racial divide, but not all of it.

U.S. Census data on income and internet adoption paint a clear picture:

  • 49 percent of households with incomes below $20,000 have wired or wireless internet, but nearly 90 percent of households with incomes above $100,000 do.
  • 81 percent of Whites have home-internet access, compared to 70 percent of Hispanics and 68 percent of Blacks.

Free Press’ report demonstrates that the racial-adoption gap persists even after we account for differences in income and a host of other demographic factors. For example, there is a divide between people who are in the same income brackets but in different racial or ethnic groups. The gap is widest for people earning less than $20,000: Fifty-eight percent of Whites in this group have some form of home internet, compared to just 51 percent of Hispanics and 50 percent of Blacks.web_header_3

There is research that tells us how to reach and teach the students. It is here.

There are students who are of tribal, rural, distant and urban areas who are affected. They are all kinds and all colors. Years ago, when the National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council formed policy ( Kickstart) we acknowledged these areas of difficulty and sought to solve the problems. Politics has gotten in the way sometimes.

There are other sources , such as that of the George Lucas Educational Foundation that give examples of what helps and what hinders. Here is a special set of blogs on the topic.

Research and templates inform. We the public need to hold the school systems and communities to the standards so that all children benefit from the uses and skills enabling them to be digital citizens . But parents may not know or understand the uses of technology well.

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Common Sense Education
Common Sense Education provides digital literacy and citizenship programs to school communities to empower students to harness technology for learning and life.They just published a report “The Digital Lives of Minority Youth”. But this report, The Common Sense Census Plugged in Parents of Tweens and Teens 2016 matches nicely with the ISTE report.
Plan of Action?
Print out the template and take it to the next PTA meeting. Share copies of it with parents and have a speaker to access it online. Have a discussion about it and plan action for your school and community.
See if your school has an ISTE member. ISTE has a conference where these types of action and study of the topic is a part of how they serve their members. Hopefully, the school will sponsor a teacher to attend and be a part of ISTE and other technology minded groups. There are also state groups and regional groups that help in outreach.
Is there a low-cost provider who serves your community? If so get some community people working to help them with outreach. Make sure that the provider meets the needs of the community. There are many ways to do this.
 Query the school board and if possible involve people in a presentation about this topic. Use resources that fit your community.

Digital Citizenship, a SITE Initiative

When I started thinking about the use of the Internet, I remembered all of the people who could not read who asked me to teach them to read when they found out I was a teacher.  That was many years ago and reading literacy is still a problem.

Now I have a new way of thinking, there needs to be more than just reading literacy, I believe digital literacy is a civil rights issue. The headline here talks about the urban poor but it is more than just the urban poor who are worried.

Digital Divide

Without Internet, Urban Poor Fear Being Left Behind In

Digital Age


You must read this article and then think urban, rural, distant, tribal and isolated .http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/01/internet-access-digital-age_n_1285423.html

Originally published: March 1, 2012

Author: Gerry Smith

[Commentary] An estimated 100 million Americans have no way of accessing the Internet at home. They are on the wrong side of the so-called “digital divide” — the chasm between those who are connected to technology and those who are not.

Some live in remote areas where broadband service doesn’t exist. Many live in blighted urban neighborhoods, unable to afford a computer, let alone Internet service. But being disconnected isn’t just a function of being poor. These days, it is also a reason some people stay poor. As the Internet has become an essential platform for job-hunting and furthering education, those without access are finding the basic tools for escaping poverty increasingly out of reach. “The cost of being offline is greater now than it was 10 years ago,” said John Horrigan, vice president of policy research at TechNet, a trade association representing high-tech companies. “So many important transactions take place online. If you don’t have access to high-speed Internet, you’re missing out on a lot.

 FCC workshops ,  taught me these descriptors.

Barriers to Use

  • Affordability: 36 percent of non-adopters, or 28 million adults, said
    they do not have home broadband because the monthly fee is too
    expensive (15 percent), they cannot afford a computer, the installation
    fee is too high (10 percent), or they do not want to enter into a
    long-term service contract (9 percent). According to survey
    respondents, their average monthly broadband bill is $41.

    We know that there are initiatives for that change. We also know that community organizations can create learning spaces such as libraries, civic centers and chapter houses, or other venues to allow people to have community access.


    Digital Literacy: 22 percent of non-adopters, or 17 million adults,
    indicated that they do not have home broadband because they lack the digital skills (12 percent) or they are concerned about potential
    hazards of online life, such as exposure to inappropriate content or
    security of personal information (10 percent)

    This is a gating reason for many, not just homes but schools. We hope to create awareness , information and resources that will create a pathway to great use of the Internet in our project.

    Relevance: 19 percent of non-adopters, or 15 million adults, said they do not have broadband because they say that the Internet is a waste of time, there is no online content of interest to them or, for dial-up users, they are content with their current service.

    Having been a  teacher Internet pioneer, and having many professionals in our SITE.org to help disseminate  best practices, we in the educational field can help to bridge the gap. There are long-standing projects like Project Zero that provide a model of dissemination. There is the Digital Generation Project. Many of today’s kids are born digital — born into a media-rich, networked world of infinite possibilities. But their digital lifestyle is about more than just cool gadgets; it’s about engagement, self-directed learning, creativity, and empowerment if they have the right learning landscape. The Digital Generation Project tells their stories so that educators and parents can understand how kids  can learn, communicate, and socialize in very different ways than any previous generation was able to do.


    Digital Hopefuls, who make up 22 percent of non-adopters, like the idea of being online but lack the resources for access.
    Few have a computer and, among those who use one, few feel comfortable with the technology. Some 44 percent cite affordability as a barrier to adoption and they are also more likely than average to say digital literacy are a barrier. This group is heavily Hispanic and has a high share of African-Americans.

    There are still some community center initiatives and funding that are created that need replication. Tutor Mentor in Chicago is a great example. 


Literacy today depends on understanding the multiple media that make up our high-tech reality and developing the skills to use them effectively

Years ago Andy Carvin wrote this.

Giving people access doesn’t instantly solve the manifold woes of our communities and schools. If it did, every kid with Internet access would be getting straight A’s and every adult with access would be gainfully employed and prosperous. It’s just not that simple. Technology access is only one small piece of a much larger puzzle, a puzzle that if solved might help raise the quality of life for millions of people. None of us can rightfully say we’ve found all the individual pieces yet, but some of the pieces are obvious enough that we can begin to put the digital divide puzzle together:

The digital divide is about content. The value of the Internet can be directly correlated to the value of its content. If all you can find online is shopping, Pokémon trading clubs, and porn, you could make a pretty good argument that it’s not very important to give people access to the Internet. As anyone who’s used it knows, the Internet can offer a wealth of opportunities for learning and personal enhancement, but we’ve only scratched the surface in terms of its potential. As more underprivileged and disenfranchised communities gain access, the Internet itself must provide the right tools so people are able to take advantage of and use it for more varied purposes, more learning styles, more languages and cultures. The Internet may feel like a diverse place, but when compared with the wealth of diversity and knowledge amongst humanity in the real world, it’s still pretty weak. Until the Net contains content that has true value to all of its potential users it will remain a place for the elite.

There is a bifurcation in use as well. Many only play with 2.O applications, they are good users of simple tools, but building the Internet and creating ideas takes computational thinking. But that’s another subject. Thinking about data mining, visualization, use of languages to build, and other skills needed to do Supercomputing are not in the thinking of educators. Here is the problem, ten years later, there are still people who are not on the Internet.The Pew Charitable Trust gives an update to Andy’s ideas. The slides are here In short they say,.Pew – The emerging information landscape – 8 realities of the “new normal”

“Pew Director Lee Rainie gave a keynote at the NFAIS annual conference about the way the internet and mobile connectivity have transformed the worlds of networked individuals. He discussed how normal life has changed in the past decade because of three revolutions in technology: 1) the spread of broadband; 2) the rise of mobile connectivity; and 3) the emergence of technological social networks. He discussed trends and likely future developments in technology that will shape the way people learn, share, and create information. The slides are here.”

The digital divide is about literacy. As much as we hate to admit it, functional illiteracy amongst adults is  one of America’s dirty little secrets. Millions of adults struggle to fill out forms, follow written instructions, or even read a newspaper. The 1993 National Adult Literacy Survey suggest as many as 44 million American adults—one out of four—are functionally illiterate, while another 50 million adults are plagued by limited literacy. We often talk about the importance of information literacy when it comes to using the Internet. Information literacy is an obviously vital part of the equation, but how can we expect to conquer the digital divide when nearly half of all American adults can’t even process written information competently? Literacy must be tackled at the most basic level in order to afford more people the opportunity to use technology effectively.

The digital divide is about pedagogy. As I wrote recently in the e-journal the Digital Beat  Internet access in schools isn’t worth a hill of beans if teachers aren’t prepared to take full advantage of technology. Research has shown that educators who are resistant to constructivist teaching practices are less likely to utilize the Internet in their lessons, while educators who are more comfortable with constructivist practices are more likely to do so. Teachers who employ more real-world interaction are thus more inclined to employ online interaction. How can professional development be reformed to take these differences into account?

The digital divide is about community. One of the greatest strengths of the Internet is in its facility for fostering communities. Communities often appear in the most low-tech of places: You can surf the Web until your knuckles implode and yet not feel like you’ve actually bonded with anyone, but you can subscribe to a simple e-mail listserv and join a gathering of people who have been enjoying each others’ wisdom for years. It’s paramount for people coming to the Internet for the first time to have opportunities to join communities and forge new communities of their own. Public spaces must be preserved online so that people can gather without feeling like direct marketing or more popular and powerful voices are crowding them out. If people can’t build meaningful relationships online, how can they be expected to gravitate to it? 

We must continue fighting the scourge of illiteracy—among students, their parents, and among the community—by expanding formal and informal opportunities that improve reading and critical-thinking skills. We must demand engaging content from online producers and refuse to buy into mediocre content when it doesn’t suit our teaching needs. We must encourage all learners to be creators as well, sharing their wise voices both online and offline. And we must open our schools and libraries to more connections with our communities—no computer lab or training room should sit idly during evening and weekend hours. These are but a few examples of what the education community can do.These five puzzle pieces—access, content, literacy, pedagogy and community—may not be enough to complete the entire digital divide puzzle, but they go a long way in providing us a picture of what’s at stake. Giving people access to technology is important, but it’s just one of many issues that need to be considered. Schools, libraries, and community centers have taking that first step in getting wired, but they must also consider the needs of the learners, the teachers, and the communities that support them. Broadband accessibility and speed are a problem.

Digital Citizenship is a concept which helps teachers, technology leaders and parents to understand what students/children/technology users should know to use technology appropriately. Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool; it is a way to prepare students/technology users for a society full of technology. Too often we are seeing students as well as adults misusing and abusing technology but not sure what to do. The issue is more than what the users do not know but what is considered appropriate technology usage.

Cyberbullying and Adults

Cyberbullying isn’t just for kids. It never was. But when adults are involved, it’s called “cyberharassment” not “cyberbullying.” WiredSafety’s award-winning website dedicated to the issue of cyberbullying and young people is StopCyberbullying.org . It’s the most popular cyberbullying website in the world. Adult cyberharssment is handled here at WiredSafety.org’s cyberbullying section
* Pew – The emerging information landscape – 8 realities of the “new normal”

“Pew Director Lee Rainie gave a keynote at the NFAIS annual conference about the way the internet and mobile connectivity have transformed the worlds of networked individuals. He discussed how normal life has changed in the past decade because of three revolutions in technology: 1) the spread of broadband; 2) the rise of mobile connectivity; and 3) the emergence of technological social networks. He discussed trends and likely future developments in technology that will shape the way people learn, share, and create information. The slides in PDF are here.”

.

  Facebook’s Digital Citizenship Research Grants

Introduction

Facebook’s Digital Citizenship Research Grants support world-class research to improve our understanding of how social media can impact the next generation. In August 2011, we invited academic and non-profit institutions to apply for the $200,000 in grants funding research that highlights trends associated with digital citizenship. Nearly 100 researchers from more than 10 countries submitted outstanding applications. Based on in-depth evaluation from a team of Facebook employees and our Safety Advisory Board, we are awarding the inaugural Digital Citizenship Research Grants to FOUR researchers who will advance our global understanding of digital citizenship.

Original

Our leader

Dr. Michael Searson, SITE

Dr. Searson is President of the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education (SITE) and heads the School for Global Education and Innovation program at Kean University. SITE represents approximately 1500 educators, from about 500 institutions of higher education throughout the world. In these roles, Dr. Searson works with educators across the globe to explore issues related to information technologies, informal learning, mobile devices and social media.The SITE project will bring together a coalition of international scholars, researchers and practitioners who will develop an open source course and course modules for the preparation of future teachers to teach digital citizenship.

Original

http://www.netfamilynews.org/?p=31281

Transformational Learning in a CyberLearning Summit

Some of us as pioneers in STEM and in technology, have been working in computer learning and use of technology so long that we had begun to think that change would never happen. Working in minority areas we are always running to catch up.

I was participating in technology well  enough to be on the National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council. We helped to frame the vision of what technology would be in the United States. We wrote documents and shared methodology. But change was slow in coming. Years have passed and not much has happened in some teaching and learning spaces. Some of our dreams and ideas are still waiting to be fulfilled, like Broadband for all. In case this information is history here is a link if you need a history lesson.

So we go from conference to conference and speak those who believe change will come. We continue to learn and try to keep carrying the message of the use of technology. But it has been hard. We pioneers are talking about computational sciences and the latest headlines from Apple regarding the repurposing of textbooks. You have to look at that picture, because the end of the conference talked about the reality of that happened. That was Chad Dorsey of Concord.org. He is the reason I was able to sit and sit and sit.. though the conference was great it was a long time to actually BE on line. Did I mention NSF? I take it for granted having taught in Arlington, with access  to their information. I remember being laughed at when we used the first iterations of digital media, but NSF was firmly in support. CUSEEME? the reporters said it was stupid. So much they did not know.

There was a reference to a cyber conference from the National Geographic . If you have ever had professional development from the National Geographic you would jump at the chance….the resources for teachers are so many. Their  training is outstanding and it is inclusive learning. So with NSF and SRI and National Geographic  I knew the offerings would be outstanding.  You can still participate in the portal to help build knowledge.

This was the site, for the webcast. If you know me,You know that I do not love webcasts because so many of them are really bad.  I also love the excitement of talking to the participants and the exchange of ideas. What I usually do  to go to the National Academy of Sciences and attend the workshops , when I know about them. It is a singular joy to learn in this way, but the experience from yesterday expanded the audience, created a collaborative group of people even beyond the projects that I love the most wbich are the Supercomputimg Comference and Cilt.org which is no longer an entity but a great model for what happened yesterday.So I was not included.. well really I was, there was the online group  you can look here to see the program  for the webcast. My friend from SRI gathered the best and the brightest to inform the public and to share the resources. I knew their work was from excellence since they were a part of Cilt.org. This may be their new way of :

What a powerful example of transformational learning . Here’s to the creators of the conference. You should join the thought parade. Thanks to all who created an inspirational day. Hopefully some of these ideas will be made a part of the national conversation on the use of technology.

STEM , Education Supports Racial and Ethnic Equality in STEM

I attended a workshop at the Brookings Institute on this subject. The press reported it , but they did not give it much space or report some of the new ideas that are in place in thinking about STEM education. It is not just the US that has this problem. I know this from working in many countries as a part of WSIS, and the role of science in the information society.

While we have many kinds of new technologies that people take time to learn, the culture of learning in the US is not about STEM , so far. Robotics have made a leapfrog, but since most teachers in the lower grades are women, you cannot take that as a step to engineering for granted.

Here is the link to the report.  US Dept of Commerce   www.esa.doc.gov

There are actually three reports within the esa site. You can also read this blog.

http://www.esa.doc.gov/Blog/2011/09/13/education-promotes-racial-and-ethnic-equality-science-tech-engineering-and-math-jobs

Three important things to learn from the data.

K-12 all through K-12 we should be teaching and giving examples of STEM initiatives.

We used to say, or the people in charge used to only mostly targer students in the higher grades.

That does not work. Remarkably this is now being understood.

Teachers deserve respect for their jobs and interestingly enough in math there is a group that compensates math teachers  for being math teachers.

Math for America is the project he founded. I put the link here for those without broadband.

Math for America (MƒA) is a nonprofit organization with a mission to improve mathematics education in US public secondary schools by recruiting, training and retaining outstanding mathematics teachers. Founded in New York City in 2004, MƒA also has sites located inBerkeleyBostonLos AngelesSan DiegoUtah and Washington, DC. MƒA offers Fellowships for new and experienced teachers and school leaders, including: the MƒA Fellowship, which aims to increase the number of mathematically talented individuals entering the teaching profession; the MƒA Early Career Fellowship and the MƒA Master Teacher Fellowship, which support outstanding mathematics teachers already in the classroom; and the MƒA School Leader Fellowship, which is designed to support experienced mathematics teachers who have moved into administrative positions and oversee mathematics instruction in their schools.

Engineering

Dr. Charles M. Vest is the president of the National Academy of Engineering and president emeritus of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He shared this from the National Academy of Sciences.

 A report released in July  by the National Research Council presents a new framework for K-12 science education that identifies the key scientific ideas and practices all students should learn by the end of high school.  The framework will serve as the foundation for new K-12 science education standards, to replace those issued more than a decade ago.  The National Research Council is the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering; all three are independent, nongovernmental organizations. The committee that wrote the report sees the need for significant improvements in how science is taught in the U.S.  The new framework is designed to help students gradually deepen their knowledge of core ideas in four disciplinary areas over multiple years of school, rather than acquire shallow knowledge of many topics.  And it strongly emphasizes the practices of science – helping students learn to plan and carry out investigations, for example, and to engage in argumentation from evidence. 

 

The overarching goal of the framework, the committee said, is to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science, the capacity to discuss and think critically about science-related issues, and the skills to pursue careers in science or engineering if they want to do so — outcomes that existing educational approaches are ill-equipped to achieve.

 

“Currently, science education in the U.S. lacks a common vision of what students should know and be able to do by the end of high school, curricula too often emphasize breadth over depth, and students are rarely given the opportunity to experience how science is actually done,” said Helen Quinn, committee chair and professor emerita of physics at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Stanford, Calif.  “The new framework is designed to address and overcome these weaknesses.  It builds on what is known to work best in science education, based on research and classroom experience both in the U.S.and around the world.  It provides a blueprint that will guide improvements in science education over many years.”

 

From NIST Tech Beat ( Last summer’s offer)

NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers Accepting Applications

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is soliciting nominations of middle school science teachers from eligible U.S. public school districts or accredited private educational institutions to participate in the NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers. The NIST Summer Institute provides hands-on activities, lectures, tours and visits with scientists and engineers in NIST laboratories.

The Summer Institute will be held at the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, Md., from July 18 to 29, 2011.

The two-week workshop is designed to increase teachers’ understanding of the subjects they teach through exposure to the cutting-edge measurement science research pursued at NIST. The workshop provides teachers with instructional materials and ideas to use in their teaching, experience in how scientific research is carried out, and an opportunity to develop an ongoing network with the scientists and engineers at NIST. NIST provides a $2,000 stipend for teachers attending the workshop and travel and lodging funds for those traveling more than 50 miles to the workshop.

U.S. public school districts or accredited private educational institutions that offer science courses such as earth science, physical science, chemistry, physics and/or biologyat the middle school level (Grades 6-8) are eligible to nominate no more than one teacher per school for the program. Applications are due by 3 p.m. Eastern Time, on Thursday, March 24, 2011.

NIST also is soliciting nominations from school districts or educational institutions of middle school science teachers who have successfully completed the NIST Summer Institute to participate in the NIST Research Experience for Teachers (NIST RET) program. The NIST RET will allow the selected teachers to participate in scientific research with NIST scientists and engineers at the NIST campus in Gaithersburg, Md., that will encourage the teachers to inspire their students to pursue careers in fields of science, technology, engineering or mathematics.

So you can put that on your agenda to look at for the offerings next year.

If you are interested in the elementary level, or the new standards, look here.

A Framework for K-12 Science Education  for those without broadband http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13165

http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13165

Charles Giancarlo sahred with us the concern of meeting the needs of the businesses that do not have

the degrees and knowhow that is needed. He said that companies have to go abroad to find these workers. We had a long discussion on the lack of diversity and the rationale for companies to seek employees outside of the US and the problems that it causes and the  current problem is that the workers cannot stay and that others come, learn and then go home and earn, also taking their new ideas to their countries.

The H-1B is a non-immigrant visa in the United States under the Immigration and Nationality Act, section 101(a)(15)(H). It allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign workers in specialty occupations. If a foreign worker in H-1B status quits or is dismissed from the sponsoring employer, the worker must either apply for and be granted a change of status to another non-immigrant status, find another employer (subject to application for adjustment of status and/or change of visa), or leave the United States.

The regulations define a “specialty occupation” as requiring theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge in a field of human endeavor[1]including but not limited to architectureengineeringmathematicsphysical sciencessocial sciencesbiotechnologymedicine and healtheducationlaw, accounting, business specialties, theology, and the arts, and requiring the attainment of a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent as a minimum[2] (with the exception of fashion models, who must be “of distinguished merit and ability”

Great teachers and great schools have the ability to transform the living standard of Americans.  Over the past century, investments in education have boosted the productivity and earnings of American workers, forged a path out of poverty for many families, and developed a productive and innovative workforce.  However, those gains have stagnated and even declined in recent years.  Despite one of the highest rates of per-pupil spending among industrialized countries, the United States ranks as mediocre on most measures of student achievement.

We spent more per person on incarceration than education per person.

Here is the Brookings Institute summary of the event.

The need for better science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teacher training and investment was emphasized today at a Brookings Institution forum on the topic. Dr. Rebecca Blank, the Acting Secretary of Commerce, presented several Commerce reports showing the importance of STEM education for job creation and economic development, and significant underrepresentation in the field for women, African-Americans, and Hispanics. Its report on “Women in STEM: A Gender Gap to Innovation” found that STEM workers were 76 percent male and only 24 percent female. A new report released today on “Education Supports Racial and Ethnic Equality in STEM” noted that 74 percent of STEM workers are male, compared to 6 percent who are Hispanic, 6 percent African-American, and 14 percent Asian-American. She noted the importance of the United States doing a better job attracting students into STEM fields and the need to reach out to under-represented communities. Since STEM workers earn a premium of 25 percent over other workers and have only a 5.5 percent unemployment rate, there are strong economic incentives to get more people into STEM fields.

Jim Simons, the founder of Math for America and board chairman of Renaissance Technologies, discussed his non-profit’s interest in improving teacher training in high school STEM courses. He said we need “knowledgeable and inspiring teachers” and that today we have a “shortage of such teachers”. The way to make STEM teaching more attractive so instructors do a better job introducing students to science and math is “higher pay and better working conditions”. Math for America proposes bonuses and stipends for high school STEM teachers and has provided funding for this across the country. The organization helps 350 math teachers in New York City and hopes to raise that figure to between 700 and 800 in the near future.

Charles Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering and MIT president emeritus. He pointed out that South Korea graduates more engineers than the United States and the China graduates 10 times as many as America. In many Asian countries, 21 percent of college graduates are engineers, compared to 12 percent in Europe and 4.5 percent in the United States.

Charles Giancarlo is managing director and head of value creation for Silver Lake Partners. He noted that Cisco (where he used to serve as executive vice president) employs 24,000 engineers and Silver Lake Partner’s companies employ 87,000. Yet the United States graduates only 86,000 engineers, indicating a mismatch between supply and demand. He also explained that 35 percent of graduates are foreign born, yet we only provide 85,000 H-1b visas for scientists and engineers so many foreign students who would like to stay in the United States are forced to return to their home country. This robs the United States of valuable talent and sources of future innovation and job creation.

ADD YOUR VIEW

My view is at the top of the event and I believe that urban, rural, distant and gender .. we have a lot to do to change the face of education.

Bonnie Bracey Sutton