The American school system, which AeA researchers charge is failing to provide strong science and math education to students, is largely to blame for lost jobs, according to the AeA’s report, “Offshore Outsourcing in an Increasingly Competitive and Rapidly Changing World.”
“Companies aren’t outsourcing only in order to obtain cheap labor; they are also looking for skilled technology workers that they increasingly can’t find in the U.S.,” said Matthew Kazmierczak, senior manager of research at AeA, and one of the authors of the report.
On Assorted Stuff, Tim writes:
While this report sounds like another industry lobbying group trying to scare Congress into giving their companies lots of money, they do make one good point. We don’t do a good job of math and science instruction in this country. Part of the blame for that goes to society in general which gives lots of lip service to learning those subjects but then has an adult population which is largely (and often proudly) ignorant of even the most basic math and science concepts. How many people actually understand the odds behind the lottery or what the theory of evolution actually says?
I’ll probably get blasted for this, but I also blame the tsunami of standardized tests we spend a large part of the year preparing for. The math on these exams hardly gets up to the “high tech” level that the AEA report is referring to and most exams barely touch science at all since it’s not one of the indicators that NCLB requires. When the test becomes the target of instruction, learning settles for the lowest common denominator of the test.
Reform K12 — which is celebrating its 10,000th visitor — responds
The argument seems to be this: first standardized tests are criticized because schools must spend “most of the year” on test prep, which leads us to believe that they’re really, really hard. Then the tests are criticized because apparently the math and science on the test is not high tech (which we read as “easy”).
I’m not convinced by the AeA’s argument: If Indian programmers and engineers demanded U.S. wages, they’d be out of work. They’re highly educated and relatively cheap.
I also think testing has nothing to do with the problems of math and science education in the U.S. Many students flunk those very easy tests because they don’t know the basics. They’re not prevented from learning higher math because too much time is spent on test prep. The problem is they don’t know the basics.
I sat in on a charter school faculty meeting a few days ago that focused on test prep. The English, math, science and history teachers are making sure they teach the relevant state standards before students take the state test; they’re also discussing how to measure whether students know what they’ve been taught. This is not a waste of time, it seems to me.