Celebrating Charter School Successes: This Week and Every Week

Every child deserves an excellent education. Unfortunately, there are many children in this country that, because of their neighborhood or socio-economic status, do not have access to a school that will prepare them to succeed in college and a career. On a national scale, only one in 10 students from low-income families will graduate from college. Internationally, the United States fails to compete with the world’s best. According to a recent study by Pearson Education, the United States does not even crack the top 15 in educational performance amongst countries in the developed world.


Practical enhancements must not be lost in push for immigration reform

As the ‘Gang of Eight’ Immigration Reform Bill was introduced on the floor of the Senate this week, much speculation has centered on what might be added and what taken away before the bill could come forward for a vote. The aspects of this bipartisan effort to make immigration policy fairer to the individual and more flexible for American businesses that rely on highly skilled foreign-born workers are, as always, controversial.

As the bill moves from the Senate to the House and is inevitably picked apart and amended, it is vital that law makers not lose sight of the unique opportunity to enact legislation that provides flexibility in meeting the needs of American industry, strengthens our ability to produce home-grown world-class scientists and provides us with a fairer, more humane immigration policy in keeping with American values.


Stop playing games with college tuition

Here we go again.

Recent news stories that Congress is once again fighting over whether to double the interest rates on many student loans is distressing and all too familiar.

As the mother of a high school senior who is applying to colleges right now, I know that it may come down to what we can afford — and how much debt she will be able to carry into her life after school.

The cost of the rates doubling—about $1,000 a year -- may not seem like a lot, but it is to those of us who struggle to make ends meet every day.


Highly trained physical science teachers needed to educate students for high-tech economy

In an increasingly high-tech economy, we cannot continue to handicap students and neglect the workforce needs of our nation. And that is why it is high time the nation addresses the severe shortage of physical science teachers. Far too often, the teacher in a physics or chemistry classroom has neither the content knowledge nor the focused pedagogical education necessary to effectively teach the subject. Only 47 percent of physics and 46 percent of chemistry classrooms are taught by teachers with a degree in the subject. Physics and chemistry top the list of hardest teaching positions to fill year after year.


Lifting Green Card limit may prove to be best investment of all

The volume is being turned up in the U.S. Senate as proposed immigration makes its way through congressional hearings. While a plethora of points and perspectives are being shared, one fact about the legislation is indisputable: promoting economic growth is a desirable goal of reform.


Immigration reform a pivotal point in our educational and economic competitiveness

The ”Gang of Eight” had the right idea in supporting efforts to increase STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education in the United States as part of the immigration reform package they unveiled Wednesday. But it’s hard to imagine that the “Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act,” which raises the cap on the H1B visas that allow companies to employ foreigners in U.S. STEM-based jobs, will lead to any meaningful improvement in STEM education for U.S. students or in American workers’ ability to compete for these jobs in the future.


STEM careers offer bright futures

The recently released 2012-2013 PayScale College Salary Report confirms that careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) offer the best opportunities and most rewarding salaries for young people seeking well-paying careers. STEM careers dominated PayScale’s list of 130 top-tier salaries for entry-level through mid-career professionals – filling every slot of the top 13 rankings, and 40 of the top 50 professions on the list. Starting annual salaries ranged from $50,000 to $100,000, with mid-career STEM profession salaries ranging from $100,000 to more than $160,000 per year. 


Early exposure to STEM education benefits children, economy

In a high stakes competition, what team would deliberately put itself at a disadvantage? Americans must confront a similar question as we consider our path forward in the 21st century. Many of the best jobs and our ability to compete in a global marketplace are linked to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) fields. Workers in STEM earn on average 26 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts. Moreover, job openings in STEM occupations outnumber unemployed workers by nearly 2 to 1.   

Knowing this, why do we consciously put our nation at a disadvantage by failing to provide a strong STEM education for as many students as possible? By failing to improve access to STEM, especially for under-represented groups such as girls and minorities, we are compromising the ability of our youth to compete for the jobs of tomorrow. The latest available research shows that in 2005, only 5.1 percent of science and engineering jobs were held by African-Americans and 5.2 percent were held by Hispanics. In addition, a 2012 report from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research showed that women’s participation in STEM fields has actually declined. Women earning associate degrees or certificates in STEM fields dropped from 33.8 percent in 1997 to 27.5 percent in 2007.

Evidence that shows the United States leaves alarming numbers of students behind came to light in the Trends in International Math and Science Study. U.S. students in fourth and eighth grades lagged their counterparts in more than half a dozen nations in Asia and Europe. While average scores of American students were not much lower than averages in higher ranked nations, the 2011 study revealed a huge difference in the proportion of U.S. students who scored at the highest levels. Only 7 percent of U.S. students achieved at advance levels in eighth grade math. That compares to 47 percent of eighth graders in South Korea and 48 percent of eighth graders in Singapore. We know how to close the STEM achievement gap. We need to act now.  


I-Squared is common sense immigration reform, meets nation's needs

Ever since the Virginia Company was founded in Jamestown in 1607, America has been the land of opportunity for generations of immigrants, who often risked everything to strive for their American Dream. America must continue to be a magnet for the best minds in the world to come here for the freedom to compete, innovate and grow our economy.

A recent survey of over 1,100 manufacturing executives by the National Association of Manufacturers’ Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte shows that 67 percent of manufacturing companies face a “moderate to severe” shortage of qualified workers. Four major high-tech companies – IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Oracle – say they have a combined 10,000 job openings in the United States alone. In Congressional testimony, Rick Stephens, senior vice president at Boeing, related that fewer than 5 percent of graduates from American colleges and universities attain engineering degrees, compared with about 20 percent in Asia.


Bill would ease debt burden on students

“Work hard. Earn good grades. Make it to college.”

From the time students enter elementary school, they hear this simple formula for earning a steady income and meaningful work.

Yet, for millions of young Americans, this formula increasingly leads to limited opportunity and mountains of debt. With student loan debt surpassing $1 trillion and unemployment rates for recent graduates lingering near painful post-2008 heights, student debt has become a serious burden on our national economy and on young lives.