Obama proposes money for math, science education

WASHINGTON Tue Feb 7, 2012 2:01pm EST

President Barack Obama discusses about the economy at Fire Station Number Five in Arlington, Virginia February 3, 2012.     REUTERS/Larry Downing

President Barack Obama discusses about the economy at Fire Station Number Five in Arlington, Virginia February 3, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Larry Downing

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama on Tuesday proposed $80 million in new government funding for a program to boost science and math education in U.S. schools.

Obama, who is running for re-election in November at a time when the economy is voters' top concern, has sought to emphasize math and science education as one of the keys to a robust economic recovery.

Many U.S. business leaders have complained that a shortage of workers with strong math and science skills has forced them to look abroad.

Hosting a group of middle school and high school students whose prize-winning science-fair projects were on display at the White House, Obama said: "What these young people are doing is going to make a bigger difference in the life of our country over the long term than just about anything."

Before he spoke, Obama inspected the exhibits sprawled about several rooms on the ground floor. During one exchange, he helped eight-grader Joey Hudy of Phoenix launch his Extreme Marshmallow Cannon, which shot a sugary morsel at the wall of the State Dining Room.

The aim of the new proposed funding is to train 100,000 specialized teachers, who Obama said would help to "meet an ambitious goal, which is 1 million more American graduates in science, technology, engineering, and math over the next 10 years."

Obama will formally unveil the request in his proposed budget for fiscal year 2013 that he will present on February 13. The request requires approval from the U.S. Congress.

In addition to the government funds Obama is proposing, the president said philanthropic organizations and private companies have committed to providing $22 million to help train new math and science teachers.

Organizations involved in the effort include the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Google, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Freeport-McMoRan and the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation.

(Additional reporting by Caren Bohan; Editing by Eric Beech)

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Comments (8)
policywhiz wrote:
If he had not spent money loaned from China to get us into so much debt he would not have a problem pushing this through but he sold our future to the world. This President should have taken some business and economic courses in school, worked a few real jobs and he would have learned that you work first, put money in the account, save and then wisely spend your money. Instead he spends money like a Freshman who uses his parents credit card, with no understanding that one must pay back anything they borrow. He wants, he wants, he wants but he has not learned how to earn and save.

Feb 07, 2012 11:27am EST  --  Report as abuse
As true as all that may be, it doesn’t make improving our education system a bad idea.

My question is if he plans on having 100,000 teachers train 1,000,000 students over a decade…that’s one student per teacher per year based on some pretty simple math. And 1 million students at a cost of $80 million means 80$/student, assuming he hasn’t planned this based on additional donations. So there’s a few possibilities here. The numbers could be wrong. This could be the worst plan ever. Or, as I suspect, this program will cost much more than 80 million.

Feb 07, 2012 12:08pm EST  --  Report as abuse
oneofthecrowd wrote:
I have two high schoolers in an Asian majority public high school with very high test scores. Most students have paid for private tutors, after school classes at one of the after school programs which are everywhere. As an engineer, I am left to tutor my kids because of this. My kids have to work much harder to get good grades than I did, due to the competition and willingness to eliminate free time in the student’s schedule. Obama is just wasting more money. Student’s need old style rote memorization of Algebraic formulas, Trig Identities, Physics formulas etc. Why did “repeat the formula after me” stop? It works in memorization. Teachers can waste learning time with Western style ‘creative’ projects or leaving the students to figure things out on their own too much. And I have seen crappy textbook choices made on their colorfulness and pretty pictures, with internet tie-ins with too much real-life application samples – in advanced math and science where they must get the information very well. The text then gets scattered around and messy. None of Obama’s spending spree will repair this. Why not teach the US students exactly what a foreign college engineering student did to make it into a US university starting from their first grade so they will know what the difference is in work effort. Open their eyes.

Feb 07, 2012 1:17pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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