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?

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