Wednesday, February 01, 2006

President Bush On The State Of Education

In last evening's "State Of The Union" address, President Bush delivered his expected remarks extolling his No Child Left Behind Act. However, the president did propose one new education-related program. Not surprisingly, the focus is to be on math and science. From the transcript: (emphasis ours)
And to keep America competitive, one commitment is necessary above all: We must continue to lead the world in human talent and creativity. Our greatest advantage in the world has always been our educated, hard-working, ambitious people -- and we are going to keep that edge. Tonight I announce the American Competitiveness Initiative, to encourage innovation throughout our economy, and to give our nation's children a firm grounding in math and science.

First: I propose to double the federal commitment to the most critical basic research programs in the physical sciences over the next 10 years. This funding will support the work of America's most creative minds as they explore promising areas such as nanotechnology, supercomputing, and alternative energy sources.

Second: I propose to make permanent the research and development tax credit, to encourage bolder private-sector investment in technology. With more research in both the public and private sectors, we will improve our quality of life -- and ensure that America will lead the world in opportunity and innovation for decades to come.

Third: We need to encourage children to take more math and science, and make sure those courses are rigorous enough to compete with other nations. We have made a good start in the early grades with the No Child Left Behind Act, which is raising standards and lifting test scores across our country. Tonight I propose to train 70,000 high school teachers, to lead advanced-placement courses in math and science ... bring 30,000 math and science professionals to teach in classrooms ... and give early help to students who struggle with math, so they have a better chance at good, high-wage jobs. If we ensure that America's children succeed in life, they will ensure that America succeeds in the world.

Preparing our nation to compete in the world is a goal that all of us can share. I urge you to support the American Competitiveness Initiative ... and together we will show the world what the American people can achieve.
It's been my experience that no matter which political party is in the White House, the President's Address to the nation invariably makes promises that, for whatever reason, oftentimes does not become reality.

With the war in Iraq continuing to draw so much of the President's political attention, I would be very surprised to see the "American Competitive Initiative" actually be implemented in the near future. I don't believe that the political will is there to push it through a Congress that is now dominated by special interests and the lobbyists who represent them.

The President referred to the success of his No Child Left Behind Act in raising test scores. It's strange. At our junior high school here in California's "Imperial" Valley, test scores have risen each of the last four years. And yet my take-home pay is now less than it was in 2001.

Of course, no one in Washington or Sacramento has a thing to say about that.

Until teacher compensation at least keeps up with inflation, recruiting large numbers of high caliber teachers in all subject areas, (not just science and math) will continue to be a problem.

Excepting those who feel a "strong calling" to serve children in public schools, why would large numbers of highly qualified (In other words, those with other options.) teaching candidates want to embark on a lifetime career that offers little or no opportunity for advancement based upon merit and compensation that doesn't keep-up with the rapidly rising cost of living?
See our latest education-related posts right here. Visit today's edition of The Carnival Of Education, guest hosted by Diane Weir, over there.