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Creating a Smarter Education System

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I testified today before the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Research and Science Education about IBM’s commitment to address the issue of national decline in math, science and engineering and its implications for America’s labor force. The Subcommittee on Research and Science Education oversees all matters related to science policy and science education. In my remarks, I noted that over the last 20 years IBM has been one of the leading corporate contributors of cash, technology and IT services to non-profit organizations and educational institutions around the world. During that time, IBM’s most effective grants and partnerships have been those that focus on our unique offerings – leveraging our software, hardware, technical services and expertise. In addition, IBM has been most successful when designing initiatives to bring our employees’ skills and experience into the classroom to interact directly with students, teachers and administrators.

Leading examples of IBM’s approach to “smarter education” are our Transition to Teaching program for retiring employees, and our partnership with civic and education leaders to create New York City’s Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) – an innovative grades nine through 14 institution that confers both the high school diploma and a no-cost associate degree in technology. P-TECH prepares graduates for entry-level positions with IBM and other leading technology companies. More than 100 IBMers are participating in Transition to Teaching, which helps prepare them for a second career teaching math and science. And the P-TECH model has garnered the attention of the White House and of city leaders across the country who seek to replicate the school’s success in their districts.

Education and employment in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) is a vital component of the American economy, and the private sector can play an important role in closing the gap between where we are and where we need to be. Workers in STEM occupations out earn their peers, enjoy long and stable careers, and represent the next generation of global innovators. But our economic growth is threatened by a severe shortage of math and science teachers, and by shortfalls in STEM academic achievement – particularly in historically underrepresented communities already bearing the brunt of tough economic times. The solution lies in a collaborative and multi-faceted approach to improving STEM education at all levels – from replacing retiring math and science teachers, to strengthening the skills of current educators, to forging private sector partnerships with schools and communities to ensure that our students can make the transition from education to industry.

Watch the archived webcast of my House Subcommittee Testimony to learn more about IBM’s commitment to smarter education.

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