from Renewing America

Morning Brief: U.S. Students Not Proficient in Science

Space Shuttle Endeavour Astronauts Mark Kelly and Mike Fincke talk to students at Mesa Verde Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona to spark interest in STEM studies in May 2011. (NASA Handout/Courtesy Reuters)

May 11, 2012

Space Shuttle Endeavour Astronauts Mark Kelly and Mike Fincke talk to students at Mesa Verde Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona to spark interest in STEM studies in May 2011. (NASA Handout/Courtesy Reuters)
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The U.S. Department of Education’s 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) found that two-thirds of U.S. students are not proficient in science (EducationWeek). Only 2 percent of students earned the “advanced” rating on the test administered in both public and private schools. Possible explanations include the lack of qualified teachers and poorly designed curricula; only four of thirty-seven states studied set science proficiency standards at or above NAEP’s. Twenty-six states are evaluating a new common science curriculum based upon a framework developed by the National Research Council.

The new report of the CFR Independent Task Force on U.S. Education Reform and National Security recommends expanding the Common Core State Standards to include science, and asserts that fixing the nation’s underperforming K-12 schools is critical to economic competitiveness and national security.

Education and human capital. Read more from experts discussing ways to improve U.S. education and immigration policies.

Corporate Regulation and Taxation

J.P. Morgan Chase Loses $2 Billion Betting on Recovery

J.P. Morgan Chase announced a $2 billion loss on derivative positions on corporate bonds; the largest U.S. bank in terms of assets was betting on economic recovery (WSJ). CEO Jamie Dimon said that in spite of this loss, the bank expects to earn approximately $4 billion for the quarter. Dimon disagrees with those who see this loss as validation of the need for the Volcker Rule (BusinessWeek): "This [trade] doesn't violate the Volcker rule, but it violates the Dimon principle. This does not change analyses, facts, detailed argument." Though, he acknowledged: “It is very unfortunate. It plays right into all the hands of a bunch of pundits out there."

Corporate regulation and taxation. Read more from top economists and business experts on solutions for addressing corporate tax reform.

Debt and Deficits

Business Leaders Push for Deficit Reduction

U.S. business leaders are pressing Congress to address the mounting federal debt through a bipartisan deficit reduction deal (WSJ). In private meetings and roundtable lunches, executives are encouraging lawmakers from both parties to prepare for an agreement with mutual compromises before year’s end, often pointing to the 2010 Simpson-Bowles plan as a model.

As the United States continues to run budgets with high deficits, politicians debate different plans to reduce government costs and to raise revenue. This CFR Backgrounder by Jonathan Masters outlines the competing policy paths on federal fiscal reform, and the global consequences for failing to bring down U.S. debt.

Debt and deficits. Read more from experts on the challenges in reducing U.S. debt.

Innovation

Opinions vary on Facebook IPO

Bloomberg reports that demand for the Facebook initial public offering (IPO) is weaker than expected. Institutional investors have expressed concern that Facebook may have limited growth potential, as advertising revenue has not grown as fast as the number of registered users, which recently surpassed 900 million. Reuters has a conflicting report, and says a source indicates the Facebook IPO is already over-subscribed due to large demand from institutional investors.

Innovation. Read more on how the U.S. capacity to innovate could play a chief role in economic growth.

The Morning Brief is compiled by Renewing America contributor Steven J. Markovich.

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