I have written elsewhere about my doubts concerning the validity of arguments that link US economic performance to achievement test results (see William H. Angoff Lecture Series Report; The Huffington Post; GSEHD Working Paper 2.3). And in my last posting I had the pleasure of welcoming guest blogger Sharon Lynch, whose innovative work on STEM education is spurring considerable discussion and addressing some of the most important education policy issues we face.
Recently I had the honor and pleasure of serving as guest editor for the current issue of The Bridge, the flagship quarterly of the National Academy of Engineering. In my introductory note I suggest that there are two compelling and compatible narratives about the importance of attention to STEM (and I’m grateful to my friend and former colleague, Naomi Chudowsky, for helping me understand and articulate these ideas). The “national need” narrative is based on the hypothesis that the future of American economic competitiveness, especially in a changing global environment, hinges on an increased supply of well-educated scientists and engineers, qualified and ready to work in demanding jobs that require higher order science and math skills. The second narrative, what might be called the “equity narrative” emphasizes the glaring and persistent inequities in the distribution of educational opportunities and the deficits experienced by underrepresented minorities and women in the STEM fields.