“Become a teacher. Your country needs you.” – Barack Obama 1/25/11

January 29, 2011

As President Obama gave his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, January 25, one thing was clear – STEM education was high on his list. As Amy Chyao of Richardson, Texas, Brandon Ford of Philadelphia, Mikayla Nelson of Billings, Mont, and Diego Vasquez of Phoenix (four remarkable science students), looked on, the President spoke of the U.S. as needing to “… out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world.”

Obama called for new government investments in biomedical research, information technology and clean energy technology to spark innovation. Those investments would also need to include science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, where recent studies show that the United States is lagging behind. These are the areas where jobs could be created and where much of our future economic growth could reside.

On education, Obama set a goal of recruiting and training 100,000 great STEM teachers who are able to effectively prepare and inspire our students. These teachers would replace retiring baby boomers over the next ten years. He also spoke of the need for competitiveness in education that would be essential in creating long-term jobs in the future. In an appeal to young people, he said, “If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child — become a teacher. Your country needs you.”

Obama also called for the rebuilding of America to attract new businesses. He spoke of the need for the “… fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information – from high-speed rail to high-speed internet.” He claimed that by improving our infrastructure, we would create jobs while making the U.S. a better place to do business.

The overarching idea of Obama’s speech was that of STEM education and the need of the U.S. to effectively educate our future scientists, technologists, mathematicians and engineers. In order to “… out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world,” the U.S. needs to increase innovation through investment, train quality STEM education teachers and invest in our infrastructure. That is the only way the U.S. will regain its position as a leader in the global economy.