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Lecture series highlights lacking US education system

November 10, 2010

An MSU professor has found the U.S. compares poorly with other countries in terms of the math education it provides for its K-12 students.

“Even our brightest children are not really competitive with respect to other countries,” Professor Bill Schmidt said.

Schmidt, an MSU university distinguished professor in statistics and education, will be the featured speaker for a lecture hosted by ASMSU and the Council of Graduate Students, or COGS, next week to kick off its Spartan Lecture Series.

The event, titled Education in a Global Context will be held at 7:30 p.m., Nov. 17 in Kellogg Center.

ASMSU is MSU’s undergraduate student government.

Schmidt has been researching international education for the last 10 years and said adequate math skills are a necessity for students entering universities, as well as for the future of the U.S. economy.

“We owe it to them to provide them with an adequate education,” Schmidt said.

The new Core Common State Standards, which provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare children for college and the workforce, are a step in the right direction, Schmidt said. The standards have been adopted by 37 states, including Michigan, he said.

Kailey Specht, a theatre and Residential College in the Arts and Humanities freshman, said the U.S. education system needs to include more hands-on learning activities.

Specht said she attended a year-round elementary school, which ran through July and had weeklong breaks sporadically throughout the year.

“I liked it because as a kid, you get bored of school, but you also get bored during the summer,” Specht said.

The U.S. system doesn’t rank as high as many countries worldwide and lacks in the math, science and technology areas, said Justin Epstein, ASMSU Academic Assembly chairman.

“(The lecture) encompasses the comparison of our public education systems to education systems all over the world,” Epstein said.

COGS president Stefan Fletcher said the groups chose to ask Schmidt to speak because the issue affects both undergraduate and graduate students.

“It’s interesting to a student parent who has children in the system right now or a freshman who has just graduated from a high school and can relate to the sorts of things he’s speaking about,” Fletcher said.

ASMSU hosted a Last Lecture Series a few years ago, basing the name off the “Last Lecture” given by Randy Pausch, a computer science professor at Carnegie Mellon University who was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer.

Fletcher said the groups decided to change the name to Spartan Lecture Series because the event is focused on showcasing MSU faculty.

“We were looking for a speaker who is well respected in his field,” he said. “At MSU, obviously we have a plethora of different options.”

If the event receives a large turnout, Fletcher said the groups will look to host another lecture in the spring semester.

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