Friday, January 3, 2014

STEM Fever

Maybe We Should Stem the Panic and Consider Needs
Published in the Wall Street Journal, Jan. 9, 2014

Ms. Stotksy thinks that all high school  students should be required to take trigonometry and precalculus to be ready for the brave new world of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.

Even if the STEM crisis were real, this is not a good idea. Of course, advanced math classes should be offered, but there is no reason to require them of everybody: Michael Handel of Northeastern University has concluded that only about 10% of the work force uses math beyond algebra II. 

Also, it is not clear that the crisis is real. It is not clear that there is a compelling need for more STEM workers. Some studies conclude that there are too many qualified candidates. Rutgers University professor Hal Salzman has reported that there are approximately three qualified graduates annually for each science or technology opening, and recent studies have also shown the United States is producing more Ph.D.s in science than the market can absorb.

Stephen Krashen

original article:

Some sources:
Math in work force: Handel, M. 2010. What do people do at work? OECD, forthcoming. Available at‎
Three graduates for each opening:
Salzman, H. & Lowell, B. L. 2007. Into the Eye of the Storm: Assessing the Evidence on Science and Engineering Education, Quality, and Workforce Demand. Available at SSRN:
Salzman, H. and Lowell, L. 2008. Making the grade. Nature 453 (1): 28-30.
Salzman, H. 2012. No Shortage of Qualified American STEM Grads (5/25/12)
See also:
Teitelbaum, M. 2007. Testimony before the Subcommittee on Technology and Innovation. Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC, November 6, 2007
More Ph.D's than the market can absorb: Weissman, Jordan. The Ph.D Bust: America's Awful Market for Young Scientists—in 7 Charts. The Atlantic, Feb 20, 2013.

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