Emphasizing STEM in Florida’s schools, colleges and universities: A thoughtful editorial from the Daytona Beach News-Journal

From the News-Journal:

Florida doesn’t have to zero out anthropology majors — or English or history majors — to pursue the worthy goal of preparing more students to enter professions that require a background in math and “hard” science. And no state leader should take the position that education has value only in the utilitarian sense that it produces worker bees to fill job slots. To remain a great country with a well-rounded economy and culture, we need artists and philosophers as well as scientists and engineers. And, yes, we need anthropologists, too.

But Gov. Scott is absolutely right about one thing: We need more young people to go into technology-related fields…

The U.S. needs to improve teaching in math and science and do more to encourage K-12 students to take an interest in the STEM fields. By the time students get to college, it’s probably too late to steer them into math and science if they haven’t concentrated on these subjects in middle school and high school. Also, it’s not a good idea to rush students out with a degree who aren’t prepared to compete with budding scientists and engineers in China, India and Korea.

So the governor should do all he can to get Florida students ready for STEM careers. That may mean putting more money into K-12 and two-year college programs — something Scott has been reluctant to do.

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One Response to Emphasizing STEM in Florida’s schools, colleges and universities: A thoughtful editorial from the Daytona Beach News-Journal

  1. Doc Carr says:

    I’d be commenting on the more relevant article if it was possible, but this will have to do.

    The press release talks about a 5-year goal and a 10-year goal.

    Students who are going to finish an engineering or science degree merely five years from now are seniors in high school with a solid math background. Others are already in college, taking “college algebra”. The only way to affect them, particularly those who do not qualify for Bright Futures, is to provide scholarships tied to realistic goals based on each student’s background from HS. If they have families, they really need scholarship and health-care support so they can focus on school rather than a 40-hour job.

    Tax cuts will not generate the resources needed to make any of that happen.

    Those who need post-grad training (medicine, many sciences) are already in Paul’s junior pre-med college physics class.

    Students who are going to finish in 10 years are in some middle school classroom where they may or may not be learning algebra successfully because of major weaknesses in math ed at that level. (One local school does not have a single qualified math teacher on the faculty. Cutting teacher pay will not improve this situation.) Indeed, some who can finish an engineering degree in 10 years are already in high school but will need a year or two of community college math classes to be prepared to start calculus because they were turned off by math in middle school.

    This is a long-standing problem and it will not be a quick fix. It took many years for math ed to get where it is in K-8, and it will not turn around after just one session of the legislature.

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