Spellings Joins Passage to India on Education

By Alyson Klein — April 18, 2006 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings and several key senators traveled to India last week to examine how that country, whose schools generally have fewer resources than those in the United States, has managed to produce top-notch engineers and technology professionals.

Secretary Spellings arrived in India early in the week and met with business and government leaders. She toured a Texas Instruments facility and the General Electric John F. Welch Technology Center, a research-and-development center, both in the city of Bangalore.

Ms. Spellings and the lawmakers, who arrived on April 12, also were scheduled to visit an Infosys Technologies Ltd. global-technology and consulting facility in Bangalore, home to numerous high-tech companies and widely considered to be India’s Silicon Valley. The group also met with representatives of Google India, an affiliate of the major American Web search engine, The Times of India reported.

The secretary told the newspaper she expects to see more American students go to India to study. She also praised the large number of skilled employees in the country, telling TheTimes of India, “That’s one of the pages we want to take from your book: ... the high-quality technical base, strength of the skills, ... your talent pool. We have work to do on that across our country as well.”

Some Indian students take intense, daily math and science courses, often beginning in 8th or 9th grade, to gain admission to one of the country’s engineering colleges. Still, there is limited access to education in some of India’s poor and rural areas. Nearly 30 percent of the nation’s 6- to 14-year-olds are not in school. Many students drop out of school before they reach 5th grade. (“Indian Middle Class Makes Mission Out of Sending Children to College,” Nov. 30, 2005)

Hole-in-the-Wall Computers

Ms. Spellings joined an official congressional fact-finding trip that included Sen. Michael B. Enzi, R-Wyo., the chairman of the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, and two other members of the committee: Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., who served as secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush.

The lawmakers and Ms. Spellings were also scheduled to meet with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Minister of Science and Technology Shri Kapil Sibal in New Delhi.

The U.S. group also toured the Hole-In-the-Wall program, which places computer terminals in poor areas. Local children are given access to the machines, without instruction or other assistance, and are often able to teach themselves to use them, said Sanjay Puri, the chairman of the U.S. Indian Political Action Committee, a Washington-based advocacy group for Indian-Americans.

“It’s unbelievable, to see them figuring it out and getting really good at it,” said Mr. Puri, who consulted with Senate aides in arranging the trip.

The trip was largely spurred by The World Is Flat, a highly regarded 2005 book on globalization by the New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman, which has helped focus policymakers’ attention on the highly skilled Indian workers who are increasingly competing with Americans for jobs in many sectors.

Congress is considering proposals advanced by President Bush that would bolster mathematics and science education, including training more Advanced Placement teachers in those subjects, with the goal of preparing American students to succeed in the international job market. (“Bush Proposes Math and Science Initiatives,” Feb. 8, 2006)

The congressional trip to India was intended to help inform those efforts, which are included in the competitiveness initiative the administration is pushing.

“We need to learn all we can about the successes of our world neighbors and how we can benefit,” Sen. Enzi said in a statement before he left.

Secretary Spellings and the lawmakers were planning to travel to Sri Lanka on April 14.


Student Well-Being K-12 Essentials Forum Social-Emotional Learning: Making It Meaningful
Join us for this event with educators and experts on the damage the pandemic did to academic and social and emotional well-being.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Privacy & Security Webinar
K-12 Cybersecurity in the Real World: Lessons Learned & How to Protect Your School
Gain an expert understanding of how school districts can improve their cyber resilience and get ahead of cybersecurity challenges and threats.
Content provided by Microsoft
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Well-Being Webinar
Trauma-Informed Schools 101: Best Practices & Key Benefits
Learn how to develop a coordinated plan of action for addressing student trauma and
fostering supportive, healthy environments.
Content provided by Crisis Prevention Institute

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Conservative Backlash Pushes Biden Administration to Dissolve New National Parent Council
Parent advocacy groups sued the U.S. Department of Education over the council, claiming it was unlawfully biased.
6 min read
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona talks during a roundtable with School District of Philadelphia officials, the principal, a teacher, and a parent at the Olney Elementary School Annex in North Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 6, 2021.
U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona talks during a roundtable discussion last year in Philadelphia.
Tim Tai/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP
Federal How a Divided Congress Will Influence K-12 Education Policy
The U.S. Senate and House of Representatives education committees will have new leaders in January.
6 min read
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks Monday, June 13, 2022, during a debate with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C, Hosted by Fox News at the The Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston for a debate intended to prove that bipartisanship isn't dead.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during a June debate with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C, at The Edward M. Kennedy Institute in Boston. Sanders is poised to become the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee.
Josh Reynolds/AP
Federal What the Federal 'Don't Say Gay' Bill Actually Says
The bill would restrict federal funds for lessons on LGBTQ identities. The outcome of this week's election could revive its prospects.
4 min read
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in front of the Florida State Capitol on March 7, 2022, in Tallahassee, Fla. Florida House Republicans advanced a bill, dubbed by opponents as the "Don't Say Gay" bill, to forbid discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, rejecting criticism from Democrats who said the proposal demonizes LGBTQ people.
Demonstrators gather on the steps of the Florida Historic Capitol Museum in Tallahassee on March 7, 2022. Florida's "Don't Say Gay" law was a model for a federal bill introduced last month.
Wilfredo Lee/AP
Federal Fed's Education Research Board Is Back. Here's Why That Matters
Defunct for years, the National Board for Education Sciences has new members and new priorities.
2 min read
Image of a conference table.