Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reason #118: STEM

I wanted to focus a little more on one specific thing Obama brought up in the State of the Union last night - STEM education. STEM, as I've learned today, stands for science, technology, engineering, and math - the four areas where the U.S. is most lacking. We're doing so badly at training new people in these subjects, in fact, that despite the huge unemployment numbers, growing science and tech companies have twice as many openings as the country has skilled workers.

So not only did Obama call for expanded STEM programs in community colleges, and partnerships between said colleges and companies that could benefit from subsidizing their students' tuition, but what I particularly loved was this:
"Hundreds of thousands of talented, hardworking students in this country face another challenge: The fact that they aren’t yet American citizens. Many were brought here as small children, are American through and through, yet they live every day with the threat of deportation. Others came more recently, to study business and science and engineering, but as soon as they get their degree, we send them home to invent new products and create new jobs somewhere else. [...] Send me a law that gives them the chance to earn their citizenship. I will sign it right away."
This is great not only because it's largely a restatement of the DREAM Act that the Dems crapped out on last year, but because if we're going to encourage any immigrants to stick around, it might as well be the ones who are more educated and employable than us already. The conservative nightmare scenario of a flood of unskilled laborers taking away all the premium crop-picking jobs is funny enough already, but imagine if the cliché ten or twenty years from now isn't Mexican laborers, but Mexican CEOs?

What will people say if our economy really does end up back on top of the world again, but it's hispanic immigrants who put it there?

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