The Only Country Where It Is OK to Not Be Good at Math

At present, we are not delivering a 21st Century workforce and the skills gap does not stop after high school.

In the 1970s, the US had the most educated workforce in the world. Since 2000, the skills and knowledge of US high-school graduates have stagnated while those of other countries have increased rapidly. That failure to adapt means global employers can get cheaper, better educated labor in many other countries.

The impact of a low US math IQ goes much beyond that. Citizens fall prey to those who manipulate data to achieve nefarious ends. Those who are charged with using data to do their jobs make mistakes. The educational divide gets wider as fewer and fewer have more and more of the math skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly complex technological world. US science IQs remain low. A strong predictor of interest in STEM subjects by girls is their performance in math in middle school.

The answers lie in re-examining the intended and unintended consequences of education and social policy decisions of the past and how they affect math educators, their students, and parents. At present, we are not delivering a 21st Century workforce and the skills gap does not stop after high school. Many doctors are struggling with how to make sense of data that impacts patient care recommendations.

Like most things, the politics of STEM education creates more heat than light. Some think it is an urgent national priority. Others think it is a distraction. In the meantime, graduate STEM students have a hard time finding an academic job after graduation.

Unless we can create a more technologically and math-smart citizenry, BIG DATA will be a BIG FLOP. At some point, we need to stop asking if there will be any math on the test. The answer is yes, there will be, and you'd better get used to it.