Federal File: 'Dismal' attainment; More free advice; 'Education' Veep?
Secretary of Education Lauro F. Cavazos said last week that the general level of science and mathematics achievement among many American students is "dismal."
In a speech before the Council of Scientific Society Presidents, Mr. Cavazos cited studies indicating that fewer than half of high-school juniors "appear to know enough about science to perform on jobs that require technical skills or to benefit substantially from specialized on-the-job training."
The problem is even worse among minority students, Mr. Cavazos said, noting that many black and Hispanic students fall behind as early as the 4th grade.
He blamed the problem on inadequate instructional time, ineffective curricula and textbooks, and poorly trained teachers.
He called for more "hands-on" instruction and advocated alternative certification programs that would allow math and science professionals to move into the classroom.
Mr. Cavazos said that the inadequate math and science instruction in the schools is why "we will be half-a-million short of scientists and engineers we need by the year 2010."
Several university presidents sounded a similar theme when they met with President-elect George Bush last week.
The meeting was suggested by Benno C. Schmidt Jr., president of Mr. Bush's alma mater, Yale University.
The educators expressed concern about the shortage of well-trained scientists and emphasized the critical importance of research, much of which is conducted under federal sponsorship in college labatories.
The group also emphasized the need to maintain open access to education, especially for minorities and disadvantaged students.
Former Secretary of Education William J. Bennett has been quoted in the Detroit News as suggesting that Dan Quayle should do with the Vice Presidency something along the lines of what Mr. Bush has pledged for his Presidency.
"Dan Quayle should forget funerals in Paraguay and go to places like Spanish Harlem where choice and accountability are making schools work," Mr. Bennett said.
"With his background in job-training partnerships, he could pull the public and private sectors together and help make education reform more of a reality," Mr. Bennett added. He could become the education Vice President."