The educational foundations of our society are presently being eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity that threatens our very future as a Nation and a people…If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of war.
This memorable language in the Reagan report on education singled out an ongoing weakness in science education in the US. Since Russia beat the US in the first step of the Space Race in the 50’s launching Sputnik, our nation has struggled to reform and upgrade our STEM education.
Today, unemployment hovers at way-too-high-rates: 8% of the country is on unemployment benefits, untold millions have fallen off the unemployment rolls, settled for mediocre jobs, or just stopped looking for work. Yet hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of career openings go unfilled or filled by foreigners because Americans lack the technical skills for so many of the jobs of today or tomorrow. It’s just weird. As a small business owner, I am constantly looking for technical talent and am paying for the expense and hassle of filing for an HB1 visa since I can’t find the local talent that I need. These are good career path jobs, we’ll pay good $$$’s with benefits for a good programmer right out of college and to my amazement, there are virtually no candidates!
Why? Why aren’t American students doing the smart thing and learning to program computers so they can have great jobs and careers? I think the solution has to do with the educational system and curriculum which continues to miss this point. Calculus is required for most competitive colleges but a programming course is not.
This blog is an exploration of this problem with a focus on solutions that can be implemented now by states, school districts, schools, teachers, and families.