American competitiveness in the innovation-driven global economy has become a subject of intense concern, with many pointing to the shortage of well-trained American scientists, technicians, engineers, and mathematicians (STEM). Amid the proliferation of policy proposals to address the problem, however, one critical component has been largely overlooked: the role of specialty math and science high schools. In a new report, ITIF argues that such schools graduate deeply knowledgeable and passionate students of science and math who are more likely to pursue these fields in college and beyond. As a result, funding the expansion of specialty science and math schools must be an important part of any solution to the STEM challenge. The report recommends taking steps to triple enrollment in math and science high schools to reach 140,000 by 2012.
For brief overviews of how key technologies work and why they matter, see ITIF’s “Technology Explainer Series.”