Always fun to see what you get from the current "leadership." Sign up, stay informed. Found this in my e-mail today from Senate Majority Leader Frist. Merry Christmas......
Ok, this SOUNDS good... and we are getting our tails kicked in math and science (too many damn lawyers and poly sci majors - who end up as politicians if you ask me) but not so fast.... How can Frist be talking about all this "good news" when the reports I've read are saying very different things? continued below
"I write to share good news with you about a new student aid initiative that represents a dramatic step toward promoting math and science education and ensuring America's economic competitiveness in the future.
We know that China and India are generating scientists and engineers at a furious pace while America lags dangerously behind. Study after study calls for the government to act to address this problem. Passage of this program represents real action......."
more from the Senator:
""The new student aid program I created is called a SMART Grant. SMART Grants will provide $4000 per year to Pell Grant-eligible students who maintain a 3.0 GPA and major in math, science, engineering, technology, or foreign languages critical to national security during their third and fourth years of college. That means a Pell Grant-eligible student will obtain up to $8000 in additional assistance toward the cost of college if he or she chooses to major in those fields. These funds will incentivize more students to major in these time-intensive studies and help America produce the workforce it needs to compete in today's global economy.
The bill also provides Academic Competitiveness Grants to first and second year students. $750 will go to first year students who complete a rigorous high school curriculum, and $1300 will go to second year students who complete a rigorous high school curriculum and maintain a 3.0 GPA in college. President Bush and Chairman Boehner (R-OH) deserve praise and credit for their leadership on these grants.
I have attached a chart that summarizes the tremendous college savings students can achieve through the SMART and Academic Competitiveness programs. SMART Grant recipients will save up to 75% on their college education!
The SMART and Academic Competitiveness Grants are authorized at $3.75 billion over five years and are paid for with program savings included in the budget deficit reduction bill approved by the Senate this morning.
These grants will help sustain America's global legacy as a land of innovation, imagination, and initiative. I invite you to spread the word - please tell students, teachers, parents, and community leaders about SMART and the difference these grants will make to America's students and the country as a whole.
a different take on all this is summarized here:
A few points:
Even as it makes those cuts, Congress is creating a new program for students from low-income families who are eligible for Pell grants. The amount of aid will not be based on financial need. To qualify, students would have to be United States citizens, have completed "a rigorous secondary school program of study" and be taking courses full time at a "degree-granting institution of higher education."
The student would have to maintain "a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0." Juniors and seniors will be eligible only if they have declared a major in the physical or life sciences, computer science, mathematics, technology, engineering or a foreign language deemed critical to national security."
Hmmm... there's that "National Security" again... I guess only SOME of those engineers will get aid.... like the ones working on Defense projects. Wonder if the Bio-medical ones working on things like prosthetics and such qualify?
Now I have an engineering degree from a fairly demanding and prestegious school..... 1450 SAT's when they were harder.... It's amazing how many of us did NOT graduate with 3.0 GPA's - grade inflation seems to exist mainly in liberal arts schools and business schools. We had a number of CDF courses - so named because the BEST you'd expect was a C. A rare B might surface from a class prodigy but an A? never. Hell, I'm still proudest of the B I pulled in an Operations Research course. I'd trust an RPI grad with a 2.5 more than I'd trust a Podunk tech with a 3.4 - so even the requirements specified are going to work AGAINST producing more qualified engineers. I suspect that alot of GOOD ewngineers are NOT going to qualfy for Frist's program.
But then when I see the kids in my son's HS class and see the godawful math program NYS has in place (they're revamping it AGAIN), I wonder just WHO is going to get into these engineering schools. "No Child Left Behind" is a joke - American kids STINK in math and science.
(If you want an eye opener, attend awards ceremonies for something like Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth..... - a HS progran for gifted kids - this one geared to 7th and 8th grade. Not to be politically incorrect but you can't NOT notice that half the kids are ethinic Chinese, Korean, Indian or Pakistani with a few Russian emigres thrown in. Seems like "DAR Americans" are pretty rare.) And to be blunt - immigrants ARE more ambitious. My wife is first gen here - went to college. I'm the first in a 300 year old line here - a family of pretty unambitious blue collar WASPS that always did "well enough." And I hate to say it but kids coming out of inner city programs and poorer school Districts start out with even worse backgrounds... I wonder how many of them are going to pull 3.0's in anything? - Note - we really need a remedial "prep" pre-college program if we want to increase the porportion of REALLY well educated college grads in this country. Public Schools are simply NOT doing a good job prepping everyone for college. AND - as we seem to not want to admit - we NEED GOOD vocational programs for those that DON'T want to go to college. Mechanics, plumbers, electricians and all are needed - can't be "outsourced" and still make a nice living. And ever notice how short the military is of mechanics and technicians?.)
Also of note, the job situation for engineers is such that I retired to be a f/t parent while my Fine Arts degreed wife makes a fortune as a Marketing EVP. She's quite talented and has a national rep in her field but when we got married I made 2 1/2 times what she did. The ratio reversed and gained over time.... I'm not complaining. We have a nice life but it really doesn't make sense.
I suppose we "need" more engineers but then when you look at the pay scales and see how they're kept down....(relatively speaking - engineers still make pretty damn good salaries). We're bringing in low paid entry level engineers from India and wherever now on a wholesale basis - to meet special "needs" - yeah sure according to a friend working for a Defense Contractor building XXXXXXX systems... it's for the cheap(er) labor.
Gotta love societal values here.... didn't make sense for me to work at what I was making (and it was a pretty good living by any standard). Know a few Systems Analysts home now too - not by choice. Their high tech jobs were out sourced to India.
But in a larger sense, we're dumping general aid to needy students to (in theory) crank out more of us engineers and such.... Seems like this is all major spin on sticking it to the middle - and lower - classes. After all they did CUT the amount being spent, right?
Hell, I couldn't go to college NOW under the same circumstances I went in the early 70's. So it seems like this revamped program is a sham - doing little to produce more of what we "need" while stiffing thousands out of college aid.
Isn't the future of this country was dependent on an educated work force?
When you look closer, this seems like more of a Humbug than Christmas present....