- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 20, 2014

President Obama announced a new partnership Thursday with an array of organizations to invest $28 million to increase the number of math, science and technology teachers in classrooms across the country, at a White House ceremony where the president presented this year’s top national awards for science, technology and innovation.

The increase in funding comes as part of a federal drive to improve the skills of U.S. high school students in so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects begun in 2009 with the Educate to Innovate initiative. The initiative was an effort to invest $260 million in public-private initiatives to move American students ahead in the areas of math and science over a 10-year period.

The new increase in funding will help pay for science courses for 1 million new students in the next two years, Mr. Obama said. Half of the high schools across the U.S. do not offer calculus and more than a third don’t offer physics.

An increase in funding for STEM education will allow the U.S. to continue to produce scientists and innovators such as the 18 winners of the National Medal of Science and National Medal of Technology and Innovation at the White House.

“Because of these innovators, our lives are healthier, our economy is stronger, our future is brighter,” Mr. Obama said.

The president tried to link the science event to his immigration executive order announced later in the day. Many of the top minds at universities across the U.S. are coming here to study and then return or are sent home after they get their degree, the president said.

“Part of staying competitive in a global economy is making sure we have an immigration system that doesn’t send away talent,” Mr. Obama said.

“Too often, we’re losing talent because after the enormous investment we make to students and top researchers, we tell them ‘go home’ after they graduate. We tell them to take their talent and potential someplace else,” Mr. Obama said.

The National Medal of Science was created by statute in 1959 and is overseen by the National Science Foundation. That National Medal of Technology and Innovation was created by statute in 1980 and is administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Patent and Trademark Office. Committees of appointees present nominees for both awards to the president.

This year’s honorees included researchers and entrepreneurs in fields ranging from insect genetics and the internal structure of the moon to software engineering and the invention of flash drive data-storage technology.

• Mark Pace can be reached at mpace@washingtontimes.com.

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