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STEM-ing the Tide

September 29, 2010 - 4:29pm


Yesterday, the MacArthur Foundation rolled out its latest class of “geniuses” – 23 Americans who stand out because of their creativity and enterprise. Each recipient of the honor (and the $500,000 prize) has made an extraordinary contribution.

One of those recipients is Amir Abo-Shaeer, an engineer in the aerospace and telecommunications industries who decided 10 years ago to go back to high school – this time as a teacher. At his alma mater, Dos Pueblos High School (in Santa Barbara, California), Amir created “a school within a school” built around a hands-on curriculum that helps students learn by connecting the ideas of physics, engineering and mathematics through projects and competitions.

Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy – Amir’s brainchild – represents innovation and ingenuity that meets a critical need. But alone it does not fulfill the need. To secure the building blocks of a new economy that will create high-quality jobs and provide cheap, clean energy, America needs more success stories like Dos Pueblos and more teachers like Amir Abo-Shaeer.

That’s one of the reasons why on Monday, President Obama announced a new goal of recruiting 10,000 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) teachers over the next two years. This announcement moves the country toward the Administration’s ambitious target of preparing 100,000 STEM teachers over the next decade.

The President’s announcement earlier this week as well as the launch of demonstrate the seriousness with which this Administration is acting to attract teachers in areas of critical need – and offer our children the best education possible. These commitments will help develop the next generation of innovative thinkers and make our economy in the 21st century what it was in the 20th – the best in the world.

Ali Zaidi is a Special Assistant to the Secretary.