Investing in Math Education and Innovation

I (@vpigreenie) follow The National Math and Science Initiative on Twitter (@NSMI). Yesterday I got several tweets from @NSMI, all referencing President Obama’s weekly radio and Internet address. All of the tweets referenced various articles throughout the country and were along the lines of “US Needs Better Math, Science Education”, and briefly summarized Obama’s message, delivered at his visit to Intel, Corp. in Portland, OR, on February 18, 2011.

Naturally, I thought it best to go to the source itself, which I have included here for you.

There were a lot of things said by President Obama, but I want to focus on one thing – the Change the Equation initiative where businesses invest in schools in order to improve science, technology, and math education (STEM). The idea behind this non-profit is to meet three goals:

  • Great teaching: Improving STEM teaching at all grade levels;
  • Inspired Learners: Inspiring student appreciation and excitement for STEM, especially among women and under-represented minorities; and,
  • A Committed Nation: Achieving a sustained commitment to improving STEM education.

I agree that businesses should invest – they have the money. Public schools don’t, especially in this economy. Teachers are being laid off, technology and other educational resource purchases are being delayed or canceled, and the bureaucracy and politics that permeate our public school system get in the way of funds going to the places they need to be.

In my own experiences in education, as a teacher and now as a professional development consultant, it is abundantly clear how inadequate and inequitable the availability of quality education training and resources is. I see business investment as a way for education to get the funding needed to actually meet the challenges of educating our students in today’s technological world.

The question as I see it really isn’t should businesses become partners in education, but how do we get more businesses to step up and how do we get all students benefiting from this investment?

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4 Responses to Investing in Math Education and Innovation

  1. avatar David Wees says:

    My one concern with businesses investing money in education is that they never give out money without expecting something in return.

    What are businesses expecting in return for helping out schools? Call me cynical, but I don’t think it’s better educated employees.

    • David,

      You raise a great question, and I would have to agree – they are going to want something in return. Definitely something that schools need to consider and be concerned about.

      Wouldn’t it be lovely to think they were doing it for altruistic reasons, but my guess is it is more for tax-write offs. Or, maybe the ability to say they are a community minded company, which makes them look good to customers and drives folks to buy their products because of their charitable donations? So, just like when schools accept federal monies, reading the fine-print on what is really expected from the schools and students when accepting business donations will be crucial.

  2. avatar Karen Coe says:

    I think more businesses giving money to the non-profit sector in support of education is a good thing. It’s also a relatively rare thing because of the growth imperative (profit maximization) of businesses. However, there is a shift in single bottom line thinking happening here and there. Here’s an example Of the $300 billion that gets raised by non-profits each year only 5% currently comes from corporations (85% from individuals, 10% from foundations). Change the Equation (also a non-profit) is an interesting example because it launched with heavy business support. Hopefully it will be able to support schools more quickly with all the initial support it got. Interestingly, the CEO/ED used to be the ED of NCTM. I’m all for putting math people in charge :)

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