November 23rd, 2009
01:15 PM ET
9 years ago

Obama announces campaign to promote math, science education

Washington (CNN) - A conversation last week with South Korea's president showed President Barack Obama the stark difference between how Asian nations and the United States value education.

Announcing a new Educate to Innovate Campaign on Monday, Obama said America needs to restore the nation's leadership in educating children in math and science to meet future challenges.

He told how President Lee Myung-bak explained that demanding parents are South Korea's biggest education problem.

"Even if somebody is dirt poor, they are insisting that their kids are getting the best education," Obama said Lee told him, sounding almost whimsical in describing his counterpart's biggest education problem as parents wanting excellent schools for their children.

Back home, Obama said, a major challenge is to revive the interest, opportunities and abilities of U.S. students in math and science.

American students rank 21st in science and 25th in math compared with students around the world, he said, putting the country at a disadvantage on vital issues such as medicine, energy and security.

The Educate to Innovate Campaign seeks to bring together teachers, parents, businesses and even the Sesame Street gang to promote math and science learning, Obama said.

So far, the private sector has committed $260 million to the campaign, and corporate giants including Intel, Xerox, Kodak and Time Warner Cable have signed on, the president said.

Specific programs include a two-year initiative on Sesame Street to teach kids about math and science, an after-school program focusing on robotics, and a national "lab" day to provide millions of students with hands-on scientific learning, Obama said.

Students will "have the chance to build and create, and maybe destroy just a little bit," to learn the joy of making things, rather than just consuming things, he said.

In addition, the White House will hold an annual science fair to publicize the top achievements by scientists, Obama said. Noting that championship sports teams get invited to the White House, he said leading scientists should "stand side-by-side with athletes and entertainers" to encourage interest in young people.

The goal, Obama said, is "expanding opportunity for all Americans in a world where education is the key to success."

Referring to his conversation with Lee, Obama noted the "hunger for knowledge, an insistence on excellence, a reverence for science and math and technology and learning" in Asia.

"That used to be what we were about," he said. "That's what we're going to be about again."

soundoff (36 Responses)
  1. Pee Wee

    We already spend far more than any other country on education. Maybe if he's going to stress math, he should start with Congress.

    November 23, 2009 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  2. Dave Chamberlain

    I like the Idea of having more Math and Science in school. But, I always have the fear of the ROBOTS of the asian countries education systems.

    While it is great to have the technical knowledge, the ability to discover and think outside the norm and being able to communicate in a professional manner are what strengths should also be taught.

    November 23, 2009 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  3. Some republican guy

    But but but everything you need to learn is in the bible! Gravity is just a theory, I think we're stuck to the earth by Jesus rays. I don't see how teaching my grandbabies that we come from monkeys is going to help this country. The goldanged rapture is coming soon anyways and none of this will matter. Have a nice day!

    November 23, 2009 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  4. Jeff

    Formal education is not always all it's cracked up to be. It is good for a foundation, but without practical experience it is useless. Many people have been very successful without so much formal education (Bill Gates was a college dropout). However, they did have education, it was just not measurable in terms of credit hours and GPA.

    November 23, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  5. Spend less, Save more....

    This is what Obama tell us...Pehaps he should heed his own advise for his administration.....Lets get out of the RED INK.....!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    November 23, 2009 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  6. beanne

    Gee Mr Obama do ya think you can make a decision on Afghanistan...I have 2 boys serving and they are in LIMBO right now.....seems you can make time for things of less importance...but when it comes to the lives of our soldiers you are running scared...Let me clear this up for you...You said your own self ..Afghanistan is a war worth said..if you became president things would said,you were sending MyCrystal to implement YOUR plan in which you said you established back in March!....OK, so McCrystal came back to you in AUG and told you what he needed to implement YOUR plan...and you have been basically flipping him the bird every since. When Mr President.When are you going to come off the campaign trail and actually know that is what a president is sopose to do...didn't you know that...or did you think you were on a 4 year campaign. Sorry to break this to you Mr. Obama, but you are expected to do more than jet set around on that fancy airplane,take your wife on dates and campaign for the olympics.

    November 23, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. W l Jones

    I think the teachers and student have got away from the principle of useing the mind eyes. We need to bring it back in science an math classes.

    November 23, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  8. Kat

    with all his spending habits (our money, of course), maybe he's the one who needs a little education in math!

    November 23, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. Pee Wee

    Sesame Street? When will we get away from the namby-pamby Madison Ave. marketing approach in this country. Just teach the concepts and show some application, don't encourage kids that Oscar the Grouch is going to help them make the next great discovery.

    Once we get away from this stupid formulation of using stuffed puppets to promote things in our society we'll be far better off.

    November 23, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  10. Tom L

    It is so funny to hear people on the left say that Republicans hate America. Do you REALLY believe that? Really???

    Maybe they just have a different way to approach our issues.

    It is a clear sign of a lack of fundamental, rational reasoning when you start to make such wild and ridiculous accusations.

    November 23, 2009 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  11. mjm

    Yeah right....this guy owes his presidency to the uneducated.

    Do you think Asians enjoy working their butts off in school because they love school, or do they want to secure the highest possible salary for themselves?

    They want to be as wealthy as possible one day. And Education is their ticket.

    That's not a characteristic of Obama and the Democrats. Money is evil, corps. are evil, Wall Street is evil. You hear it all the time. That's why they believe in redistribution of wealth. Why work for it when you can just vote for someone who will right a bill that takes from one and gives to another.

    November 23, 2009 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
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