Posted on June 13,2011 in Education

Our Public Secondary Education System is Broken, Why Not Give Borderline Students a Chance at a STEM+M Diploma?

In 1944, President Roosevelt asked an important question: “Can an effective program be proposed for discovering and developing scientific talent in American youth to show that the continuing future of scientific research in the country may be assured. . . ?” In 1945, Vannevar Bush offered his answer. Bush called for the renewal of our scientific talent through the U.S. education system.  Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) was born – and worked very well for several years integrated with the U.S. traditional “farm based” public school model. This is a classic example of leadership in action.

However, the road to graduation has changed.  Joel Barker would call this phenomenon a “paradigm shift” (a set of rules and regulations that does two things, establishes boundaries and tells you how to be successful inside those boundaries).  Drive by your local High School before lunchtime, you might see several teenage students leaving campus early.  Why? It’s because their school day is over, they take the few subjects they need to graduate and then head home.  On the other hand, plenty of High School seniors are enrolled in full schedules because they have failed at least two courses their first three years and won’t accrue the credits needed to graduate.

To improve our Secondary Education dismal diploma graduation rates, we have to change the STEM paradigm.  Why does science have to be physical science?  Why can’t science be Economics, Finance, or Accounting?  Why does technology have to be computer based?  Why does engineering have to be design, why can’t engineering include Leadership, Purchasing, Managing Teams, Logistics, and Project Management?  There are very few of us in this world who really enjoy teaching and learning Mathematics – or even worse Statistics.

I am a registered Professional Engineer and a licensed Secondary Educator in Math and Physical Science; why teach a class if only 3 students out of 45+ see any relevance to the course – or even worse, don’t even care and are forced to be there because the course is “required.”  Why not change the model to accommodate new student needs to something that is “business based” so that we can cast a broad net and recruit more women and traditionally underrepresented minorities into the STEM fields.

Last, as General Mansfield previously reported, we need to add a capstone course in Manufacturing, changing the original Roosevelt model to STEM+M, incorporating business and leadership based courses and making each course a “dual credit” course where students receive High School as well as University credit. Imagine graduation from High School with 24 University STEM+M semester credit hours on your transcript.

Why does the “farm based” education model no longer work everywhere?  Students are raised in an environment that demands one set of skills and cast into a work environment that requires a different set of skills –no wonder they fail!  If America wants to continue to be the leader of the free world, it has to change its education model.

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3 Comments + Add Comment

  • Sir,
      I am just a WW student but couldn’t agree with you more. I am serving in the Army, currently as a Drill Sergeant, which most people could never imagine the demands of this job; however, I’m still pushing through a degree in Professional Aeronautics. I’m also 36 years old with no experience in the aviation industry, just have a passion for it. The problem I have struggled with is I have spent so much time in classes (especially Math and Physics) that may never be applied by someone like myself. Nonetheless, I work my way through the classes because they are required in the degree program. Since the degree is desired by managment, economic, or even legal professionals I feel it to be wasting time with the other classes. Thanks for the read and I look forward to more of your material.

  • Dear Jerry Math and Physics are very interesting subjects, you needs to give also more time in the classes(Math & Physics).
    Very informative post!

  • Dear Jerry Math and Physics are very interesting subjects, you needs to give also more time in the classes(Math & Physics).
    Very informative post!