Surprise! We have plenty of math/science talent coming out of high school. It's the jobs, dummy.

There was a catch-phrase used by the staff of candidate Clinton running for his first term in office: It's the economy, stupid. It kept campaign workers from getting distracted from the main campaign issue. Well, we might be well served by a take-off on that phrase when it comes to why more kids aren't pursuing careers in science or math-related fields: It's the jobs, dummy.

At least that is a conclusion that can be drawn by a recent report from Rutgers and Georgetown University researchers. They contend that there are plenty of kids talented in science and math coming out of high school, but most of them tend not to pursue advanced degrees or careers in these fields. And the reason seems to track back to a lack of career opportunities in math and science.

The authors write that the fall-off in top-performing high school grads pursuing studies in STEM “may indicate that the top high school graduates are no longer interested in STEM, but it might also indicate that a future in a STEM job is not attractive for some reason.”

You can read an Education Week write up of the report at this link, which also contains a link to the full report:

http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/10/28/10engineer.h29.html?tkn=ZQ[FHhMHPmR0MnDTN3v8WfWt%2FKowJkPYxxn2

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Lee Teschler

Leland serves as Editor-in-Chief of Machine Design. He has 34 years of Service and holds a B.S. Engineering from the University of Michigan, a B.S. Electrical Engineering from the University of...
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