More in the NY Times on attrition in college science and engineering majors: A letter to the editor

A letter to the editor in the Times from the founder of the Simons Foundation and the President of Math for America:

“Why Science Majors Change Their Minds (It’s Just So Darn Hard)” (Education Life section, Nov. 6) claims that the decline in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors occurs because beginning college courses are “just so darn hard.”

They are no harder now than 30 years ago, and no harder than comparable courses in other countries. The problem is not that courses are harder but that high school graduates are less prepared. This is because of a diminishing number of knowledgeable and inspiring teachers of math and science, which in turn is because of the widening gap (both in compensation and respect) between careers in the classroom and careers in industry available to such knowledgeable people.

Wring our hands as we may, until we narrow this gap our country will continue to fall behind.

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