The following is a brief excerpt from WGBH radio’s INNOVATION HUB. Host Kara Miller’s guests: Jeet Singh, managing director, Redstar Ventures; co-founder, Art Technology Group and Joe Kessler, president, Intelligence Group; publisher, Cassandra Report comment on the state of American education.
KARA MILLER: There’s been an awful lot of talk about education in the US and whether we are failing or succeeding. How are we doing in terms of having the base of educated people needed for these new high technology companies?
JOE KESSLER: Its pretty simple. We’re failing. We’re failing pretty miserably. It is of great concern to corporate leaders in this country, as well as entrepeneurs. There is certainly a void in the promotion and stimulation of young minds toward…the “hard subjects.” We’re starting to see a significant amount of movement in the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math). But we’re way far behind. And there’s a huge communication problem because of the seeming lack of urgency that companies and communities have toward this issue.
There’s a public high school in Palo Alto, which is at the hub of the American technology movement. When put on a global scale of performance, it ranks somewhere in the 39th percentile--rated against high schools all over the world. They did very well in California. So there was a feeling in the community that hey, we have a great high school here. We’re teaching our kids all the right things, and we’re sending them off to Stanford and Berkeley and UCLA. But when put on a global competitive scale, even a public high school that’s rated among the highest--in the largest state in the country--was middling on a global scale. The parents of those children were obviously shocked to hear that…
KARA MILLER: Jeet Singh, you go all around the world. Tell me what you see in terms of America—educationally.
JEET SINGH: It’s a different attitude. In India, they are clawing their way out of a much more difficult existence. Can you teach that to students in a country that is very, very, rich and are in a situation where they haven’t had to struggle? I’m not sure. It’s a good question. I built a small school up in the Himalayas and every day there is a twelve year old girl who walks three hours up a mountain to get to school. This is just to get to 5th grade!
When you hear about what people “want” to do, or would “deign” to do…
In other parts of the world people don’t think that way. I don’t know what the commentary is…but LOOK OUT!