U.S. STEM education (still) in trouble, report finds

From USA Today:

Stagnant scientific education imperils U.S. economic leadership, says a report by leading business and science figures.

Released Thursday at a congressional briefing attended by senators and congressmen of both parties, the report updates a 2005 science education report that led to moves to double federal research funding.

The report offers several “factoids” (their term) that illustrate how American STEM education and STEM-related industries have changed in recent decades, including:

  • Thirty years ago, ten percent of California’s general fund went to higher education  and  three  percent  to  prisons.  Today,  nearly  eleven  percent goes to prisons and eight percent to higher education.
  • China  is  now  second  in  the  world  in  its  publication  of  biomedical research articles, having recently surpassed Japan, the United Kingdom, Germany, Italy, France, Canada and Spain.
  • In  2009,  51  percent  of  United  States  patents  were  awarded  to  non-United States companies.
  • The World Economic Forum ranks the United States 48th in quality of mathematics and science education.
  • Of Wal-Mart’s 6,000 suppliers, 5,000 are in China.
  • Hon  Hai  Precision  Industry  Co.  (computer  manufacturing)  employs more people than the worldwide employment of Apple, Dell, Microsoft, Intel and Sony combined.
  • United States consumers spend significantly more on potato chips than the government devotes to energy R&D.
  • In 2000 the number of foreign students studying the physical sciences and  engineering  in  United  States  graduate  schools  for  the  first  time surpassed the number of United States students.

The report, published by the National Academies Press, is available here for free download.

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