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UALR magazine

Spring/Summer 2008 • Vol. springsummer No. 2008

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Is America Falling?

America is in substantial danger of losing its economic leadership position and suffering a decline in the standard of living of its citizens because of a looming inability to compete in the global marketplace, according to a report by The National Academies.

The report, “Rising Above the Gathering Storm: Energizing and Employing America for a Brighter Economic Future,” was released in 2005 at the request of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. In April this year, experts in all areas of scientific and technological fields met to assess if the progress the country has made since the report’s release.

Among the suggestions of the report was greater U.S. educational emphasis in science and engineering. More recently, the Washington Post reported that U.S. teens are lagging behind teens in other countries in both science and mathematics, particularly in math where the U.S. ranks near the bottom of the countries.

Earlier this year, UALR worked with Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe to receive $13.2 million in funding from ExxonMobil to improve the teaching of Advanced Placement courses in mathematics and science throughout the state. Arkansas is one of only seven states to receive this competitive grant to help high schools graduate students who are more likely to succeed in science and math careers.

UALR also administers the Arkansas STRIVE program funded by the Arkansas Department of Education that enables science teachers from around the state to work in research laboratories during the summer. The U.S. National Science Foundation awarded the College of Science and Mathematics a $579,000 grant to support students who want to graduate in biology, chemistry, and earth science.

Why are these programs important? Consider these facts from The National Academies:

  • Much of the commercial software now prevalent in the U.S. is constructed in India.
  • Nearly one in 20 Americans now works for a foreign-owned company.
  • The CAT scans of patients in a number of U.S. hospitals are routinely read by radiologists in Australia or Bangalore.
  • Many Americans’ income tax returns prepared by major accounting firms are processed in India.
  • Most of China’s top leaders are engineers. Of the 435-member House of Representatives, only three listed their field of engineering, the same number who categorized themselves as actors or artists. As for scientists, none was to be found in the Senate, but representation in the House recently ballooned to five.
  • The top 10 jobs in coming years from now don’t even exist today.
  • Toyota now has over five times the market capitalization of General Motors and Ford combined.
  • The U.S. ranks 17th among nations in high school graduation rate and 14th in college graduation rate.
  • China has supplanted the U.S. as the world’s number 1 high technology exporter.
  • The U.S. ranks 16th nationally in the fraction of citizens having broadband connections and 61st in the use of mobile telephony per capita.