Obama Initiatives Would Make America More Competitive by Investing in Diversity
Three amendments introduced by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) that would make America more competitive were today included in the America COMPETES Act, which is expected to pass the Senate tonight. The initiatives would increase the participation of women and underrepresented minorities in the professions of science, technology, engineering and mathematics, establish a mentoring program for women and minorities in those fields, and offer competitive state grants to support summer term education programs (based on S. 116, the STEP UP Act, which Obama introduced in January).
"To restore America's competitiveness, we must recruit a new generation of science and technology leaders by investing in diversity," said Senator Obama. "Through mentoring and expanded summer education programs, we can guarantee that all students and professionals have the opportunity to lead America to its next big breakthrough."
The first Obama amendment would establish a mentoring program to support women and underrepresented groups as they progress through education programs proposed by the Department of Energy. The second would require that women and minority scientists and engineers be represented and consulted as strategies are developed to increase America's competitiveness, at the proposed National Science and Technology Summit, on the President's Council on Innovation and Competitiveness, and elsewhere.
The final amendment would support summer learning opportunities, with curricula that emphasize mathematics and problem solving, by offering competitive state grants to support summer term education programs. Students lose an average of two months or more worth of math facts and skills during the summer, with the largest learning loss affecting children who live in poverty, suffer from learning disabilities, or do not speak English at home.
Obama added: "If we do not tap the diversity of our nation as a competitive strength, we will diminish our capacity to innovate."