All of the recommendations found in Rising Above the Gathering Storms would greatly increase America’s ability to compete with other countries in science and technology. The most significant concern in reading these proposals is the amount of funding required to make all of these scholarships, investments, and tax credits available. All of the ideas are well thought out and worthy of being enacted. Unfortunately, the cost of these proposals would be several billion dollars. The first recommendation alone would cost approximately $800 million a year to implement.
While having qualified teachers available is a necessity, there needs to be greater interest in studying science and technology by younger students. Offering to refund the testing fees for students who pass an AP Math or Science exam or giving small scholarships to these same students is a step in the right direction. Also, offering summer institutes where students can focus on these disciplines and work with actual scientists and researchers, as well as other interested students may help attract more students.
The recommendation that suggests creating specialty high schools could be very successful if acceptance to these schools was considered prestigious. Parents of gifted and talented students may send their children to these schools if they felt that it would give them an advantage in college admissions. This model would seem to have more potential for success than what currently takes place in many middle and high schools. Currently, one of the most popular magnets or Small Learning Communities found on middle and high school campuses are “Math and Science” or “Science and Technology”. However, my perception is that most of these students do not pursue degrees or careers in Math, Science, or technology. If students attend schools where every student and teacher was committed to the pursuit of Math, Science, and technology, students may be more dedicated to pursuing these fields as careers.