This week the U.S. Education Department released the scores of 4th and 8th graders on national math and reading exams. The results were distinctly underwhelming. Except for the reading scores of Asian students, there was just about no improvement across the board in either math or reading.
Sometimes we knock standardized testing, but when it comes to math, there's only one right answer to a problem, and American kids don't seem to know what it is. As the U.S. struggles to maintain its position as a world superpower in a fiercely competitive global, knowledge-based economy, we need American kids who are getting better and better in math. Can IBM and Microsoft really keep importing scientific and mathematical talent forever?
Look at the Boston Red Sox baseball team. For years they neglected their farm system, only to have to import high-priced (and often overpriced) players from “overseas.” But in this decade the Red Sox have seen the light – they realized they can't be competitive unless they nurtured young talent in their farm system. And look at the results: two World Series titles in four years.
China and India are using the Red Sox formula right now. They're investing billions to train young talent in math and science. When will the United States do the same? Or, according to some, does it even matter?