By Tim Weldon
The U.S. will soon be passed by numerous other countries in global competitiveness according to some educational and economic indices.
That may not necessarily be a bad thing, says the leader of one educational policy think tank.
“Is our goal to dominate the world?” asked Watson Scott Swail, executive director for Educational Policy Institute. “What we really want to do is get better than we were. I honestly don’t care if we’re first or fifth or 10th. I just want us to keep getting better.”
“We’ve entered what I call the higher education arms race,” Swail said during an education policy workshop Thursday. Specifically, he argued that the U.S. has an excessive number of colleges—4,000 two- and four-year postsecondary institutions. “I don’t think we need more. I think we need better,” he said.
“Every year, 200,000 U.S. engineering jobs need to be filled, and every year only 60,000 U.S. engineers graduate, leaving more than two-thirds of these STEM positions vacant,” Blivin said.
She recommended the following policy actions:
- Facilitate and deliver community-driven STEM strategies and make STEM relevant to the community;
- Ensure that STEM educators in K-12 and postsecondary education have the necessary content knowledge and are able to teach STEM;
- Define a public-private STEM framework for participation by the private sector; and
- Require learning portfolios to empower students to become lifelong learners by being able to plan, track and document their STEM careers.
“We believe that we are at a tipping point in education, and industry is convinced that they are part of the solution,” Blivin said.