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### Revamping STEM Education is Essential to Stay Competitive with China

While the Biden administration’s initiatives have garnered significant attention, a more substantial effort rooted in the principles of racial and economic equity overlooks a critical American vulnerability: the advancement of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines, which serve as the foundation of innovation, technological progress, and national security.

The urgency for this focus is underscored by the 2022 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), commonly known as “The Nation’s Report Card,” revealing a decline in average math scores among nine-year-olds and a persistent lack of improvement in math and reading proficiency over fifteen years. The stagnation in teenagers’ math scores in 2023 is indicative of a broader trend where American students lag behind their OECD counterparts, highlighting deficiencies in essential mathematical and scientific competencies.

In Vinegar Hill, Brooklyn, Satellite West Middle School operates within the same premises as P.S. 307, reflecting a unique educational setup in the community.

In contrast, China has adopted a proactive stance towards STEM education. Chinese leader Xi Jinping has emphasized the significance of STEM fields, especially amidst the escalating technological competition with the United States. Xi’s initiatives, including a doubling down on STEM education and increased incentives, have propelled China to produce a higher number of STEM Ph.D. graduates annually compared to the U.S.

Despite China’s restrictive policies in certain areas, the country continues to send a large number of students abroad to pursue top-tier education, contributing to its technological advancement.

Historically, foreign technological advancements have prompted necessary reforms in the U.S. education system. The launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union led to the National Defense Education Act, which played a pivotal role in enhancing America’s technological capabilities through targeted investments in STEM education. Similar challenges faced then, such as the need to attract and retain foreign STEM talent, bloated educational administrative budgets, and constraints on teacher autonomy, resonate with current educational dilemmas.

One area that could benefit significantly from increased funding is data literacy education, essential for navigating STEM fields and interpreting data effectively. Legislative efforts like the [ppp1] and the [ppp2] aim to modernize educational systems by prioritizing data literacy programs and educational resources.

While the U.S. has yet to experience a second “Sputnik moment,” where a foreign power challenges its technological supremacy, projections suggest a potential semiconductor shortage by 2030. This scarcity could impact various sectors, including efforts to reshore chip production, potentially leaving the U.S. semiconductor industry vulnerable.

Unlike China’s substantial investments in domestic semiconductor production to surpass the U.S., American initiatives like the 2022 CHIPS Act have allocated funds for semiconductor research and development but may lack effective implementation strategies. Streamlining immigration procedures for foreign technicians and professionals in the STEM field could address workforce shortages and bolster the industry’s competitiveness.

Ensuring a robust talent pool through measures like offering incentives for STEM graduates and expediting green card processes for STEM Ph.D. holders is crucial for sustaining technological innovation and economic growth. Neglecting these steps could lead to a slowdown in technological advancements, impacting productivity and intensifying competition with China in critical sectors.

While STEM disciplines are complex, advocating for their importance is straightforward. The STEM crisis poses a threat to the American way of life, underscoring the need to safeguard leading-edge technologies from authoritarian regimes like the Chinese Communist Party. To maintain its global standing, the U.S. must prioritize STEM education and technological advancement.