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Educating Americans for the 21st Century- A Report
(A plan of action for improving maathemataics, science and technology education for all Americaan elementary and secondary stuydents so that their achievement is the best in the aorld by 1995)
-A REPORT TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
AND THE NATIONAL SCIENCE BOARD-
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY - September 12, 1983
An Urgent Message to Parents, Decision Makers and All Other Americans
The Nation that dramatically and boldly led the world into the age of technology is failing to provide its own children with the intellectual tools needed for the 21st century.
We continue to lead because our best students are still unsurpassed. We continue to lead because our universities, industries, resources and affluence attract the finest talent from throughout the world. But this is a precarious advantage. The world is changing fast. Technological know-how is spreading throughout the world-along with the knowledge that such skills and sophistication are the basic capital of tomorrow's society.
Already the quality of our manufactured products, the viability of our trade, our leadership in research and development, and our standards of living are strongly challenged. Our children could be stragglers in a world of technology. We must not let this happen; America must not become an industrial dinosaur. We must not provide our children a 1960s education for a 21st century world.
We must return to basics, but the "basics" of the 21st century are not only reading, writing and arithmetic. They include communication and higher problem-solving skills, and scientific and technological literacy-the thinking tools that allow us to understand the technological world around us.
These new basics are needed by all students-not only tomorrow's scientists-not only the talented and fortunate-not only the few for whom excellence is a social and economic tradition. All students need a firm grounding in mathematics, science and technology. What follows is a difficult and demanding plan to achieve this, but it must be accomplished. Our children are the most important asset of our country; they deserve at least the heritage that was passed to us.
By 1995, the Nation must provide, for all its youth, a level of mathematics, science and technology education that is the finest in the world, without sacrificing the American birthright of personal choice, equity and opportunity.
This goal can be achieved. The best American students are the equal of any in the world. Indeed, the best schools in the world emulate the best of America. We have the know-how.
The Commission proposes sweeping and drastic change: in the breadth of student participation, in our methods and quality of teaching, in the preparation and motivation of our children, in the content of our courses, and in our
standards of achievement. We propose to initiate this difficult change through a strategy of
(1) building a strong and lasting national commitment to quality mathematics, science and technology education for all students:
(2) providing earlier and increased exposure to these fields; (3) providing a system for measuring student achievement and participation;
(4) retraining current teachers, retaining excellent teachers and attracting new teachers of the highest quality and the strongest commitment:
(5) improving the quality and usefulness of the courses that are taught:
(6) establishing examplary programs-landmarks of excellence-in every community to foster a new standard of academic excellence;
(7) utilizing all available resources, including the new information technologies and informal education; and
(8) establishing a procedure to determine the costs of required improvements and how to pay for them.
In this Report we emphasize the teaching and learning of mathematics, science and technology in elementary and secondary schools: that is the Commission's charge. We recognize, however, that this area cannot be separated from the teaching and learning of many other important subject, such as English, foreign languages and history. We hope that glaring deficiencies in these other areas will be met with the same of urgency.
(pp. 6, 10)
William T. Coleman, Jr & Cecily Cannan Selby
National Science Foundation
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