Opinion: U.S lag in science, math a disaster in the making
President Barack Obama meeting with a participant from the second annual White House Science Fair on February 7.
February 10th, 2012
11:00 AM ET

Opinion: U.S lag in science, math a disaster in the making

Editor's note: William J. Bennett, a CNN contributor, is the author of "The Book of Man: Readings on the Path to Manhood." He is a former secretary of Education and a senior adviser to Project Lead the Way, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing STEM education curricular programs.

(CNN) - Almost everyone, from educators to government officials to industry experts, laments the lackluster abilities and performance of our nations' students in science, technology, engineering and math (know as STEM education).

Two indicators are particularly worrisome, especially as this country experiences greater global competition and high unemployment. American students score 23rd in math and 31st in science when compared with 65 other top industrial countries. In math, we are beaten by countries from Lichtenstein and Slovakia to the Netherlands and Singapore. In science, we are beaten by countries from New Zealand and Estonia to Finland and Hungary.

For the United States, which led the way in space after Sputnik and showed the way in technological development and economic growth for the last 40 years, this is more than an embarrassment. And, for the future of our own GDP, economic well-being, and employer and employment needs, this is a disaster in the making. If the United States wishes to remain the most competitive and innovative country in the world - never mind just another competitive and innovative country in the constellation of industrial nations - this cannot stand.

Read William J. Bennett's full commentary

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soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Coins Of America

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    February 20, 2012 at 3:34 am |
  2. Mike

    at the risk of soudning a little preach, how certain are we that other countries (even, developed, in dsutrialized ones) aren't cooking the books. Rembmer, folks: Some systems can expel their low-testers. Just throwing that out there.

    February 15, 2012 at 3:46 pm |
  3. Bob

    When you pass a law that stresses only on math and language arts and requires all schools to have 100% proficiency by 2014, don't act surprised when science, art, and history scores drop faster than the stock market.

    February 14, 2012 at 1:06 am |
  4. Tim

    "For the United States, which led the way in space after Sputnik"... To be fair, this would never have been possible without droves of imported Nazi scientists. Let's not give ourselves too much credit for the space race.

    February 13, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  5. ErnestPayne

    Remember it is all the fault of the teacher's union. Parents, school boards, and politicians are all absolved of any responsibility. Have you ever wondered why other countries education systems do so well with teacher unions?

    February 13, 2012 at 12:12 pm |