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Even as the numbers of engineering and science graduates in the emerging nations races ahead of America's and educators fend off attacks from Intelligent Design partisans, a new poll finds that parents and students think that everything is just fine.
WASHINGTON -- If improving science and math education is suddenly a national priority, someone apparently forgot to tell the parents and the students.
In a new poll, 57 percent of parents say "things are fine" with the amount of math and science being taught in their children's public schools. High-school parents seem particularly content -- 70 percent of them say their children get the right amount of science and math.
Most of the elected officials, corporate CEOs and education experts working for high school reform come to the issue with a premise. They believe today's schools aren't as challenging as they need to be and that students just aren't learning enough. But parents start from a vastly different mindset. Most are convinced their own children will be well prepared for college or work when the time comes. Substantial majorities believe the schools their children attend are better than the ones they went to. Most also say that the material their children are learning is more challenging and difficult than what they themselves had to learn when they were in school.
Well ... I don't know. I was raised in Detroit, Michigan, and attended Cass Technical High School; that school was then the Detroit school system flagship and admission was by competitive examination only. I'm sure it was tougher than the local high school, but whether or not local high schools now are tougher than local high schools then is something I can't objectively judge. That said, I'm skeptical. According to one survey after another, American students are falling behind their international counterparts.
Here's another striking discovery in the survey:
Finding Six: Minority Students See Math and Science as Essential
While attitudes among girls and boys about math and science education are similar, there are some differences in attitudes between minority and white students. Minority high schoolers are more likely to consider math and science "absolutely essential" for "real world" success and to say that more and better math and science courses would improve high schools. Black students are more likely to believe that kids are not being taught enough math and science and that it is a serious problem.
Interesting, no? It's the difference, I suspect, between overindulgence and underindulgence.