Friday, October 30, 2015

There is No STEM worker shortage. The STEM education push is about selling stuff to schools.

For sometime it has been evident to me that the big push for STEM education in schools has been a lot more about pushing vendor tech products in schools than about improving math skills.  Care to compare the change in 8th grade NAEP math scores with change in tech purchases since the STEM push began?

Finally the HUGE LIE of a STEM worker shortage is exposed.

As found on page 7 of 23 in 

International Test Score Comparisons and Educational Policy: A Review of the Critiques

There is a growing critique of the mathematics test score-economic growth link coming from a somewhat different direction, typified by Andrew Hacker’s recent article in the New York Review of Books,  pieces by Ross Eisenbrey and Norman Matloff from the Economics Policy Institute, and research on skill gaps, shortages, and mismatches by Peter Cappelli. This critique centers on the alleged shortage of science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and other education-related skills in the U.S. labor market, certainly the underlying premise of the political hysteria surrounding U.S. students’ low mathematics scores. In his review of Michael Teitelbaum’s, Falling Behind?

(2014), Hacker writes:
…Falling Behind? makes a convincing case that even now the U.S. has all the high-tech brains and bodies it needs, or at least that the economy can absorb. Teitelbaum points out that “US higher education routinely awards more degrees in science and engineering than can be employed in science and engineering occupations.” Recent reports reinforce his claim. A 2014 study by the National Science Board found that of 19.5 million holders of degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, only 5.4 million were working in those fields, and a good question is what they do instead. The Center for Economic Policy and Research, tracing graduates from 2010 through 2014, discovered that 28% of engineers and 38% of computer scientists were either unemployed or holding jobs that did not need their training. (Hacker, 2015, p. 33).

The more likely reason for pushing the notion that the U.S. is short on STEM talent is that U.S. high tech companies want greater leeway in bringing in STEM workers from abroad (primarily India) or keeping foreign students with U.S. earned PhDs here on H-1 visas. Such H-1 visa workers tend to be locked into jobs at lower salaries. The notion that they are smarter than available U.S. workers or bring talents not available in the U.S. turns out to be a myth. They earn lower salaries, are less likely to work in R&D, and, when graduated from U.S. institutions, register fewer patents and generally have PhDs from less prestigious universities than their U.S.-born counterparts working in high-tech.

More nurses and doctors and math and science teachers are needed in rural areas but that has a lot to do with salaries and the cost of education and living in a rural area.

Certainly increased k-12 learning in math and science is needed but the STEM purchases are hardly improving much.

The way things stand today in education there are startling similarities to the H1B visa situation for tech workers and  the push for Teach for America and Teacher Residency programs, which have more to do with lowering salaries long term than improving schools.

The sad part is in Tuba City schools on the Navajo Rez in AZ,  test scores were raised by importing skilled teachers from the Philippines... When the Visas ran out the Gov. demanded they leave and there were few adequate replacements available.  So much for US treaty obligations to provide education to American Indians.   Vendors and Corporations were not improving the bottom line with the Tuba City deal.  Is there a connection ?

No comments: