Why education is critical to keeping America Great

Yesterday’s post talked about follow-on technologies from military spending, the space program and basic scientific research.  What made this all possible?  Education.

Making young people excited about science and engineering during the 50s & 60s created a huge demand for education in STEM fields, only it wasn’t called STEM back then.  This continued through the 70s but started to diminish because there wasn’t the “new and exciting” stuff like the space program to encourage people to go into those fields.  Engineering students peaked in the 80s, and has dropped back to alarmingly low levels.

The percentage of students going into education has been declining over the last 50 years.  This is disappointing because more than ever we need to make sure we have a well educated work force.

Students going to health related fields is steadily rising.  There are going to be more jobs necessary to take care of the aging population.  There is also a perception that doctors make a lot of money.

Mathematics degrees are down, law enforcement is up,  fitness studies is up significantly, physical sciences are down.  Something that is truly disturbing is we have nearly as many people getting performance arts degrees as education or engineering and significantly more than math or physical sciences.

We seem to be valuing education and science less an business and artistic expression more.  Which of these results in long-term value creation?

Don’t get me wrong, I think there is absolutely a place for lawyers, artists and business people.  We do however need to refocus on things that create new things, push the boundaries and teach our youth how to think.  We are valuing these things less and I fear that we are going to be in a bad place as our current great scientific and engineering minds start to retire.

We are losing our momentum and need to find it again.

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