This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

November 10, 2010

The Importance of US Action

We have watched as the US has fallen farther and farther behind its peer developed nations. According to The World Economic Forum's "Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010", the US now ranks 48th in the quality of its mathematics and science education. Following on the heels of our October 27th Herman Trend Alert, according to the ACT College Readiness report, 78 percent of high school graduates did not meet the readiness benchmark levels for one or more entry-level college courses in mathematics, science, reading, and English.

This report is a follow-up to the US Council on Competitiveness' previous study "Rising Above the Gathering Storm Revisited: Rapidly Approaching Category 5". (Its predecessor resulted in the "2007 America COMPETES Act".)

Though only four percent of the country’s workforce is made up of scientists and engineers, this group disproportionately creates jobs for the other 96 percent. Moreover, the pace of creation of new knowledge appears to be accelerating.

In point of fact, the US is only sixth in global innovation-based competitiveness, but 40th in rate of change over the last decade. It is 11th among industrialized nations in the fraction of 25- to 34-year-olds who have graduated from high school and 16th in college completion rate. The US is 22nd in the world in broadband Internet access and 24th in life expectancy at birth; and 27th among developed nations in the proportion of college students receiving degrees in science or engineering. Finally and not surprisingly, the US is 29th in the number of mobile phones per 100 people.

According to Charles Vest, former Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T), president, who worked on the study "In spite of the efforts of both those in government and the private sector, the outlook for America to compete for quality jobs has further deteriorated over the past five years".

Other countries like Brazil that have paid attention to these issues have reaped the rewards. If the US is to compete successfully on the global stage, we MUST put the education of our young people first. In addition, we must look for innovative ways to encourage our youth to take rigorous courses of study, especially guiding them into the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) professions.

Special thanks to New York Times' columnist Thomas Friedman for calling our attention to this important issue.

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