“… Leadership tomorrow depends on how we educate our students today—especially in science, technology, engineering and math.”
— President Barack Obama, September 16, 2010
The United States has become a global leader, in large part, through the genius and hard work of its scientists, engineers and innovators. Yet today, that position is threatened as comparatively few American students pursue expertise in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)—and by an inadequate pipeline of teachers skilled in those subjects. President Obama has set a priority of increasing the number of students and teachers who are proficient in these vital fields.
Only 16 percent of American high school seniors are proficient in mathematics and interested in a STEM career.
Even among those who do go on to pursue a college major in the STEM fields, only about half choose to work in a related career. The United States is falling behind internationally, ranking 25th in mathematics and 17th in science among industrialized nations. In our competitive global economy, this situation is unacceptable.
President Obama has articulated a clear priority for STEM education: within a decade, American students must “move from the middle to the top of the pack in science and math.”
Specifically, he has called on the nation to develop, recruit, and retain 100,000 excellent STEM teachers over the next 10 years. He also has asked colleges and universities to graduate an additional 1 million students with STEM majors. These improvements in STEM education will happen only if Hispanics, African-Americans, and other underrepresented groups in the STEM fields—including women, people with disabilities, and first-generation Americans—participate.
The Obama administration will facilitate a cohesive national strategy, with new and repurposed funds, to reorganize STEM education programs and increase the impact of federal investments in four areas: K-12 instruction; undergraduate education; graduate fellowships; and education activities that typically take place outside of the classroom.