Although Democrats and Republicans don’t agree on much today, they have a moral imperative to make progress where they do. One area for potential cooperation is in better educating our children in math and science. This is critical to keeping America competitive globally and creating good jobs here at home. And we all know that in an era of budget deficits, we will need to achieve better results without spending more. Both those goals can be met through bipartisan reforms in the “STEM” fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
Despite spending nearly $3 billion annually on STEM education, America ranks 25th in math and 17th in science when compared to other countries on international assessments. A 2012 report from the Government Accountability Office found that 83 percent of federally funded STEM education efforts had duplicative elements. Today, 13 federal agencies run 226 different STEM programs. Most of them aren’t coordinated and aren’t accountable for results. They are more responsive to individual members of Congress than actual needs in the classroom or our economy.
As former Office of Management and Budget officials under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, we know firsthand that our government can increase its focus on rigorous evidence in STEM programs.