Better math, science education key for '05
January 3, 2005
BY MICHAEL KRAUSS
What's the most important
tech matter for the New Year? "Math and science education,"
says Steve Mitchell, chairman of the Teachers Academy for Mathematics
and Science (TAMS). "Algebra is one of the key predictors
of whether a student will drop out of school," adds Mitchell.
"Those who give up typically do because they can't do the
a lot at stake for the students and our city. Jobs are being outsourced
to India, China and Eastern Europe. To stay competitive, we need
a skilled work force. That means better math and science skills.
A study done by Robert
Weissbourd for CEOs for Cities, a group that supports urban environments,
illustrates the point. Cities that succeed economically, according
to Weissbourd, are the ones with the most college degrees per
capita. It's hard to get a college degree without preparation
in math and science.
Marty Gartzman, chief
math and science officer for Chicago Public Schools, understands
the issue. "The math and science needs of our graduates have
greatly expanded with the prevalence of technology use in the
world," says Gartzman. "That means teachers need to
upgrade their skills to reflect these changes."
That's why TAMS and
Mitchell's work is so important. Keeping math and science teaching
skills on the cutting edge can motivate students to learn, reduce
drop-out rates and lead to a lifetime of better paying jobs.
As the successful former
president and COO of Lester B. Knight & Associates, the global
engineering consultancy, Mitchell could be playing golf in Florida
or Arizona. Instead, he's raising money to assure Chicago's kids
get a proper math and science education.
hard behind the scenes in Springfield, at City Hall and at Chicago
Public Schools to make the case for improved teacher training
and continuing emphasis on math and science education.
Mitchell took over
as chairman of the TAMS board in mid 2002. Located at 35th and
Normal, just west of U.S. Cellular Field, the academy provides
elementary school teachers with on-going education in state-of-the-art
techniques for teaching math and science. About 250 teachers will
benefit from the program this year, according to Mitchell.
Gartzman expects the
relationship with TAMS to grow. "We're on the cusp of developing
a public-private partnership with TAMS which will enhance our
ability to support our schools to champion math and science,"
He expects TAMS to
play an important role supporting the next generation of CPS schools
opening as charter schools and contract schools as part of the
Renaissance 2010 initiative begun by Mayor Daley and CPS boss
"Steve has been
a great champion of math and science education in Chicago,"
adds Gartzman. "He's worked on increasing attention to math
and science education in our schools, and he's led our effort
to improve science lab facilities."
That's a welcome thought
for the New Year.
Kevin Kutz is pumped
up about Chicago's tech prospects in the New Year. Today, Kutz,
43, will be named to head the Midwest Technology practice for
Burson Marsteller, the global communications agency that boasts
a slew of leading technology organizations as clients. He's also
a veteran of the team that brought technology fame to Massachusetts.
Kutz just landed Menlo
Park-based SRI as a client. He also has Boston-based Novell and
Cincinnati's think3 under his wing.
Locally, Kutz serves
technology distributor CDW and the Illinois Department of Commerce
and Economic Opportunity.
"I think this
is going to be a turning point year for the technology industry
and for Chicago," says Kutz, "There's a lot of opportunity."
Kutz believes Chicago
must act with confidence, and think globally.
"We need to shed
the notion we take a back seat to other communities," he
says. "Chicago is one of the best areas in the world to launch,
grow and maintain a technology company."
During the dot-com
boom, Kutz helped Lante Corp. founder Mark Tebbe expand his firm.
He also helped Massachusetts Gov. William Weld build that state's
reputation as a technology leader.
"I want to do
the same thing here," adds Kutz.
Krauss is a Chicago-based tech writer and consultant.