NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 14, 2004

The United States is failing to prepare the minds we depend upon to lead our country into the future, says the subcommittee for the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

One solution to our education crisis, says researcher Marsha Richards, is to offer more flexibility in the marketplace. According to Richards, legislators should:

  • Require teachers to demonstrate competence in their subject area: Nationally, 56 percent of high school science courses and 27 percent of math courses are taught by "out-of-field" teachers.
  • Streamline the alternative certification system: This would address teacher shortages in math and science by allowing qualified individuals to teach without having to complete numerous years of additional schooling.
  • Create incentives for excellent and high-demand teachers: A flexible salary model would allow excellent teachers and those who teach high-demand subjects to earn differential pay.
  • Adopt more rigorous math and science curriculum: The American Association for the Advancement of Science considers less than ten percent of all middle school math text books acceptable, and found no acceptable science books.
  • Reduce the amount of time it takes to earn advanced degrees: Public colleges benefit from the low cost of graduate teaching, providing a perverse incentive to retain students; legislators should consider adopting a higher-education voucher program which will be capped at a set number of credit hours.

If we do not address our crisis of low student achievement in math and science now, says Richards, we will lose the ability to compete in a technology-based global economy. We will not be able to create and attract high-wage jobs. Even worse, generations of Americans will be fettered by the bonds of a mediocre education.

Source: Marsha Richards, "America's Brain Drain," Evergreen Freedom Foundation, August 13, 2004.

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