Will Elmo and his buddies from Sesame Street be able to convey a meaningful message about the need to improve math and science in the U.S.? That is apparently what President Barack Obama’s administration hopes, as evidenced by the announcement of a new campaign described in the New York Times.
The campaign comes at a time when U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan has pointed out that “none of us should be satisfied” with student results on recent math tests, which revealed that under 40 percent of U.S. students in fourth and eighth grade are proficient in mathematics.
The National Math and Science Initiative and the Carnegie Corporation are both promoting new initiatives, described recently in a Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media webinar, available here. Journalists should do more than simply cover the cute advertisements and industry partnerships the White House is announcing; they must examine and find out what, if anything, the schools and districts they cover are doing to help prepare the country’s 50 million students for secure jobs and higher education in math and science.
That effort must start in pre-school, so it’s worth asking to see the curriculum and find out what role math and science plays at the earliest levels.