Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings has spent much of her time lately promoting Bush administration proposals that stress the importance of mathematics, science, and foreign-language courses in preparing American students to compete in the global economy.
Late last month, she took that message overseas, telling audiences in Egypt and Russia that nations must work together to improve their education systems, particularly in those subjects.
“Math, science, and foreign-language skills are the common currency in today’s economy,” Secretary Spellings said on May 24 in prepared remarks to the Broader Middle East and North Africa Education Ministerial, known as BMENA, in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. “All of us—as policymakers, educators, business leaders, and as parents—must work together to teach students the language of innovation.”
Ms. Spellings did more than just talk about such partnerships. In Moscow on May 31, she signed a memorandum of understanding with Russian Minister of Education and Science Andrei Fursenko. The agreement is intended to promote cooperation, including exchange programs, between universities in both countries. Improving math, science, and technology education will be a key focus of the partnership.
Secretary Spellings’ trip, her seventh out of the country since assuming her Department of Education post in January 2005, began on May 22 in Cairo. While in Egypt, the secretary met with education leaders and visited a school, in addition to attending the BMENA events.
On May 29, she traveled to Moscow, where she participated in a roundtable discussion on teaching foreign languages with teachers, students, and Fulbright-Hays scholars. On May 31, she addressed the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia and visited a math-science high school there.
The secretary planned to address the G-8 Education Ministerial in Moscow on June 2.
Math and science education was a major focus of Secretary Spellings’ trip to Sri Lanka and India in April. She has also visited Afghanistan, Italy, Japan, and Jordan, among other foreign destinations, since becoming secretary, according to Valerie L. Smith, a spokeswoman for the Education Department.
A version of this article appeared in the June 07, 2006 edition of Education Week