Thursday, January 20, 2005

On the skids?

The recently passed U.S. budget for 2005 cuts funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). No surprise there. Neither science nor the environment is high on the Bush agenda. A big part of the NSF's responsibility is the improvement of science education.

Meanwhile, a new report from the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Advancement shows U. S. eighth-grade science and math students lagging behind their counterparts in Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Korea, Hong Kong, Estonia, Japan, Hungry and the Netherlands. Fourth-grade U. S. students also trail the Asians in science and math.

The present administration and its fatcat/creationist constituency might usefully read the always interesting Jared Diamond's new book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Jared's case studies suggest that the most resilient societies are those that take the long view, conserve their environments, and do not attach themselves stubbornly to the past.