STEM-ing the tide will require input from teachers

Every year, U.S. businesses with job openings for technology specialists resort to hiring thousands of bright young foreigners to fill them. Those career opportunities could be going to young Americans, if they had the education qualifications for them.

But students in U.S. schools lag far behind their peers elsewhere in the mathematics and science education critical for such jobs.

Late last year, another round of PISA – for Program for International Student Assessment – test scores was released. Tens of thousands of students in dozens of countries took the PISA tests.

In math, average scores for U.S. students were below those for their peers in 29 other countries. In science, our young people scored lower than those in 22 countries.

We’ve known for some time that U.S. students are not doing well enough in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM courses. What are we doing about it?

A White House announcement today was illustrative. Thirty-five million dollars in grants will be handed out to train teachers in STEM subjects. The AmeriCorps program will expand to help teach STEM subjects to 18,000 low-income students. A?STEM mentoring program will be launched in seven cities.

More of the same, in other words – a shotgun approach to a challenge requiring the proverbial laser-like focus. Until that changes, perhaps with the help of the real experts, teachers, U.S. students will continue to lag behind.