These are the responses of the 2016 Presidential candidates to the fourth of the twenty questions posed to them earlier.
I posted the responses to Question #1 at (concerning innovation) at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 1”.
The responses to Question #2 (concerning research) are at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 2″.
The responses to Question #3 (concerning climate change) are at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 3″.
The responses to Question #4 (concerning biodiversity) are at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 4″.
The responses to Question #5 (concerning the Internet) are at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 5″.
The responses to Question #6 (concerning mental health) are at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 6″.
The responses to Question #7 (concerning energy) are at “2016’s Top Presidential Science, Engineering, Tech, Health & Environmental Questions – Question 7″.
I hope that you will take the time to look at these responses and offer your own thoughts. My own thoughts and analysis are at the end of the post.
American students have fallen in many international rankings of science and math performance, and the public in general is being faced with an expanding array of major policy challenges that are heavily influenced by complex science. How would your administration work to ensure all students including women and minorities are prepared to address 21st century challenges and, further, that the public has an adequate level of STEM literacy in an age dominated by complex science and technology?
Hillary Clinton (D)
In 2020, estimates show there will be 1.4 million computer-science related jobs in the United States, but current projections show we only have 400,000 computer science graduates to fill them. Less than one in five high school students has ever taken a computer science course; only seven percent of our country’s high schools offer Advanced Placement courses in computer science; and less than 40 percent of high school graduates have taken a physics course. We must do more to provide our students and workforce with the skills they need to get hired and advance in their careers.
Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science by the time they graduate high school. I support the Obama Administration’s “Computer Science for All” initiative. And I will take steps to increase investment and scale instruction and lesson programs that help improve student achievement or increase college enrollment and completion in computer science fields. These steps will help prepare the diverse tech workforce of tomorrow. At the same time, we need to expand the pool of computer science teachers so that we train an additional 50,000 CS teachers in the next decade.
Strong STEM programming in every public school is critical to our nation’s success and to reducing economic and social inequality. But today, less than 40 percent of high school graduates have taken a physics course, and the lack of STEM programming is even more pronounced in schools with high concentrations of students of color. We will support states, cities, and charters in developing innovative schools, like Denver’s School of Science and Technology and the Science Leadership Academy of Philadelphia, which have demonstrated success at engaging underrepresented populations in science and technology.
Beyond high school, we need to do more support the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and other Minority-Serving Institutions that train a large share of scientists and engineers of color. In addition to making it possible for every student to attend a four-year public college or university debt-free, we will create a special fund to support low-cost, modest-endowment HBCUs, HSIs, and MSIs. And we need to make sure that a four-year degree is not the only pathway to a middle-class life, including in technology and engineering careers, by supporting high-quality apprenticeship programs and training.
Donald Trump (R)
There are a host of STEM programs already in existence. What the federal government should do is to make sure that educational opportunities are available for everyone. This means we must allow market influences to bring better, higher quality educational circumstances to more children. Our cities are a case-study in what not to do in that we do not have choice options for those who need access to better educational situations. Our top-down-one-size-fits-all approach to education is failing and is actually damaging educational outcomes for our children. If we are serious about changing the direction of our educational standing, we must change our educational models and allow the greatest possible number of options for educating our children. The management of our public education institutions should be done at the state and local level, not at the Department of Education. Until more choices are provided in our cities, those who tout their concern about educational outcomes cannot be taken seriously.
Jill Stein (G)
Education is critically important to the future of our world. Here is how we will ensure that our students receive the best education possible:
- Guarantee tuition-free, world-class public education from pre-school through university.
- Abolish student debt to free a generation of Americans from debt servitude and eliminate economic barriers to higher education.
- Protect our public school systems from privatization.
- Replace Common Core with curriculum developed by educators, not corporations, with input from parents and communities.
- Restore arts, music and recreation to school curriculums.
- Ensure racially inclusive, sensitive and relevant curriculums.
- Recognize poverty as the key obstacle to learning. Ensure that kids come to school ready to learn: healthy, nourished, secure and free from violence.
- Increase federal funding of public schools to equalize public school funding.
Trump’s answer reflects the business model of conservatives and is a plan of economic discrimination. His term of choice is, in my opinion, “code” for charter schools. Charter schools are attempts by conservative to justify the economic discrimination that currently dominates our educational process.
Trump’s answer also shows his usual lack of knowledge. The Department of Education doesn’t really do all that he and conservatives in general think it does (such as forcing Common Core on the schools – Common Core was created by the states in cooperation without Federal government involvement). In the end, his answer, which really does not address the topic, suggests continuing and expanding the present situation, which will make things worse.
His argument that the present system doesn’t work is partially true but the solution is not more fragmentation as he suggests but rather making sure that every student has the same opportunity (which is not necessarily the case at this time).
The thing that surprises me the most about Stein’s answer is that she doesn’t address the need for increased science and mathematics support. This is surprising because of her own background. In fact, her answers really didn’t address the question.
Her statement about Common Core shows a lack of knowledge about how it was created or, perhaps, even it is. Granted, there needs to be greater input from parents and the community but if the goal of Common Core is the development of a set of skills that all students will have, this transcends community boundaries. I am also wondering what parents can input into curriculum discussions that are beneficial and not ideologically driven.
There is also a bias in her comments about Common Core that is also reflected in her previous answers that, to me anyway, borders on conspiratorial.
There is nothing wrong about bringing back arts, music, and recreation but where is the money coming from and how does that apply to the question? I agree in principle with the comment about tuition-free education but how does that apply to pre-college education?
Clinton put, in my opinion, a little more into computer science than was practical. I say that because while there probably is a demand for more tech support, what is needed is an understanding of how to use computers and technology. Our model right now does little to support creativity and innovation.
Also, there is no indication that any of the candidates noted the lack of funds for paying teachers, especially STEM teachers. Admittedly this is a bias on my part, because of my own background, but if you want to improve the process you have to make sure that you have the best possible people and that you are paying them appropriately. If you want a market-based approach, you have to pay STEM teachers a bit more than normal (and that will shake up the teacher unions, I know).