In the State of the Union Address, there was much hoopla about the President's new American Competitiveness Initiative, and his desire to improve math and science education in the United States.
Sadly, the truth is more complex. While the White House's proposed budget increases funding for basic research in science and engineering (this is much needed and I heartily approve), it continues to leave the NSF's math and science education programs impoverished. Some are arguing, in fact, that the research funding increase is coming at the expense of education funding. I'm not enough of an expert at reading government budgets to tell.
Here is an article discussing the House Science Committee's comments on the proposed budget as it relates to these issues. It looks like they have a lot of work to do.
We need to resist the temptation to pit research and education against each other, because in practice research is education: most of the low-level work in science and engineering research is done by graduate students under the supervision of faculty, and this is a critical part of the grad students' education to learn to be a researcher.
But the hard part is: in a zero-sum budget, something has to give.
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