Friday, January 13, 2012

Sputnik II: Rebooting Math and Science Funding

@FredWilson and his wife, @GothamGal, have done an awesome and amazing thing for NYC and the planet -- They helped launch a public high school software incubator:
The Academy For Software Engineering is not a "specialized school." It will be open to all students as part of the high school admissions process in NYC. The City's goal (and mine too) is to open up opportunities for many more students than the small number of specialized schools can deliver. Hopefully the curriculum that is developed and teachers that are trained at the Academy will get rolled out into high schools all over the city in the coming years.
The comments are filled with respect and admiration, mine included.

So, what will it take for national funding of math and science at the level needed, K-12?

For this to be not just one extraordinary and uniquely situated project, but the standard across the country, it has to be named and framed with the urgency of the space race. 

In the previous century,  Sputnik kickstarted US funding for math and science education as part of national defense.

Cold-war logic + the Space Race = investments in schools, under the National Defense Education Act of 1957:
"The launch shook the American belief that the United States was superior in math and science to all other countries. U.S. citizens feared that schools in the USSR were superior to American schools, and Congress reacted by adding the act to take US schools up to speed."

"The year 1957 also coincided with an acute shortage of mathematicians in the US. The electronic computer created a demand for mathematicians as programmers and it also shortened the lead time between the development of a new mathematical theory and its practical application, thereby making their work more valuable.

What has that urgency today?

What would be the naming, framing and tagline for new math and science investments?

Here's one: Do you want to fund math and science education, or do you want to cede the future to countries that do? Fund math and science education now.

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