Wednesday, August 22, 2007

MT Education Competitiveness Act

Senator Max Baucus has introduced an incentive package that will set aside an additional $25 Million dollars for education (Education Competitiveness Act). Some of the funding will be set aside to give full college scholarships to graduating high school students planning to major in math, science, engineering or technology if they agree to teach for 4 years after they graduate. While I think this is a good idea in some regards, I do not think it will have the effect they are hoping for.

The US is trying to increase they’re competitive edge in research and development by encouraging people to become scientists and mathematicians (American Competitiveness Initiative – Bush’s State of the Union). However, Baucus’s Act requires them to teach for four years after they graduate rather than putting them directly into the work force. This will likely improve the teaching quality of math, science, and engineering in MT (yeah!), but it delays their entry into the work force. By delaying, for example, an engineer’s entry into the work force I think this decreases their ability to compete with those engineers who enter the work force immediately. This puts Montana workers at a disadvantage if they make use of the scholarship. There are also other parts of the Act that I whole-heartedly agree with like funding for preschool education (currently Montana has no state-funded preschool) and increased pay for rural teachers. Like I said, I can see a lot of benefit to this bill, but will it have the expected benefit of making Montana workers more competitive? What are your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

First of many?

I have been reading some fantastic science blogs lately and decided to try and start my own. I am a PhD candidate studying Sedimentary Geology. I plan to post on geologic topics I find interesting or relevant to my research (deserts).

The purpose of my blog is twofold. 1) To communicate science to the public and 2) To study for my PhD Comps (more on those later). While the second reason may seem selfish, I think it is an efficient use of my time. I get to study topics I am interested in, communicate these ideas to others (which is the best way to learn), and hopefully generate discussion among peers. While some posts will truely be written for the general public, others may require some background in the subject under discussion. I'll try to explain complex concepts as simple as possible and answer questions if there is some confusion.

My first science post will follow this one. I just thought I should get some sort of mission statement out there - to post on geology and study for comps. I think its a good goal for this blog. I'd be interested in what other people think about it.