President Bush’s call for improved math and science education is noble but perhaps not as simple as it initially sounds.Regarding science, the issue is content and there are two avenues to improving test scores. Students can learn more science (and catch up with other countries), or schools can reduce the amount of science to be studied. So far, the latter seems to be the conservatives’ agenda. For example, while our close ally England is moving forward full speed ahead on stem cell research, Bush wants it to be illegal. Science students can also eschew any study of global warming since no amount of scientific evidence can move Bush on the issue even as homes in Fairbanks are sinking into the heretofore “perma” frost. If the “red state” creationists have their way, we can take the theory of evolution out of the curriculum as well. America’s best and brightest need only read the Book of Genesis, and watch old Flintstones re-runs, to study the time before the Great Flood when the Freds and Barneys of our species danced toe to toe with the dinosaurs.Regarding math, the issue is timing. We are, as a society, “math challenged” and the key question is whether or not we can afford to wait a generation for math proficiency to arrive – especially in Washington D.C. Some sample word questions prove the point. After a long hiatus, the Bush Administration recently reintroduced the 30 year t-bill to help fund Bush’s deficits. If a child were born today, how old would he or she be when the 30-year taxpayer obligation of Bush Debt is retired? When George W. Bush took office in 2001, he inherited from Clinton an annual tax surplus of about $300 billion. Following W. Bush’s tax cuts, Bush began deficits of about $300 billion. What is the total difference between Clinton’s surplus and Bush’s deficit? [Hint: this is tricky because it involves the subtraction of a negative and two negatives make a positive so you add Bush’s deficit to Clinton’s surplus to calculate the total swing]. When Ronald Reagan started the tax cut craze in 1981 the National Debt was about $1 trillion (a thousand billion). Last October 18, the National Debt crossed $8 trillion. How much has the National Debt grown since 1981? Finally, Bush is borrowing about $75 million an hour in new debt. There are sixty minutes to an hour. Rounded to the nearest million, how much new debt is being created per minute?America’s teachers, working closely with politicians and theologians, clearly have their work cut out if they are to improve our children’s math and science scores.
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