Tuesday, February 21, 2006

The Spellings Report: The Secretary Heads South

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has been touring the south. Last Thursday, she visited South Carolina's state capital, Columbia:
To remain competitive in the global marketplace, the U.S. needs to dedicate more time and money to math and science education, according to the country's top education official.

Many technical jobs are going overseas, and U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings told educators, college students and education officials that educators must make sure good training begins at an early age.

"We cannot afford to wait until students are 17 to address these problems," Spellings said Thursday at an event sponsored by Columbia College.

During her first visit to South Carolina since she was sworn in as secretary in January 2005, Spellings discussed the American Competitiveness Initiative.

The project, which President Bush announced during his State of the Union address in January, would commit $380 million to improving the quality of math and science instruction in K-12 schools.

Spellings said other countries are "beginning to catch up" with the U.S. on scientific innovation, "and if we want to stay competitive and remain the world's leader and remain the world's innovator, we must pick up the pace."

To do this, America must close the achievement gap between the wealthy and poor "for good, and make opportunities available for every child," she said.

Spellings also commended South Carolina, saying the rest of the country should take cues from the state's rigorous student testing system.

"Tests can and should line our enterprise," she said, praising state Superintendent of Education Inez Tenenbaum for her efforts in improving the state's testing standards.

Earlier this week, it was announced that South Carolina had become the first state in the nation to have its testing and assessment measures for all students in grades 3-8 approved under the No Child Left Behind Act.

The approval means the state's standardized tests meet the federal law's requirements.

During the program, Columbia College President Caroline Whitson also recognized Spellings and Tenenbaum for their leadership in education, inducting them into the school's Circle of Influence.

Each woman received a handmade pin, and their names were added to a plaque of recipients.

Whitson called the recipients part of a "circle of women who not only have dedicated their lives not to their own aggrandizement but to what they can do for others."
I believe that the secretary was correct when she indicated that "many technical jobs are going overseas." Since this is undoubtedly true, I wonder if Ms. Spellings can tell us next exactly what jobs will be waiting for students who've completed all those science and math courses?
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