Obama launches major science, math education effort

President Barack Obama today launched the "Educate to Innovate" campaign designed to help students across the country get a better grounding in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education.

There has been concern that the U.S. education system does not place as much emphasis on these subjects as other countries, which could lead to the decline in global competitiveness. The efforts launched today include $260 million in public-private investments and a number of partnerships focused on motivating students in STEM education.

The public-private partnerships include:

--Time Warner Cable's "Connect a Million Minds" campaign, working with FIRST Robotics and the Coalition for Science After School, to get students engaged in after-school programs in their areas.

--Discovery Communications, with research universities and federal agencies, is creating a public service campaign across its networks and a dedicated educational segment for kids on its Science Channel.

--Sesame Street, partnering with PNC Bank, said it would start a major focus on science and math for children on the show. First Lady Michelle Obama will appear on the first episode.

--The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, along with the Hidary Foundation and MacArthur Foundation are sponsoring "National Lab Day" to update school science labs.

--Sony, the Entertainment Software Association, the Information Technology Industry Council, the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, and Microsoft, are launching video game design competitions for help kids in different age groups learn software and programming skills.
Other firms, including Intel, Xerox and Kodak are contributing to the efforts.

Today at the White House, Obama said that the U.S. has "been losing ground" in terms of science and math education for decades. He also announced a $4.35 billion Race to the Top fund to give financial incentives to states that show significant improvement in student achievements in these areas. There will also be a yearly science fair at the White House.

"Through these efforts, we're going to expand the scope and scale of science and math education all across America," Obama said in a speech this morning. "We're going to challenge the private sector to partner with community colleges, for example, to help train the workers of today for the jobs of tomorrow, even as we make college more affordable--so that, by 2020, America once again leads the world in producing college graduates."