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Viewing posts tagged research and development

"No problem left behind"

Our second post this week on the United States’ unstable orbit around mediocrity focuses on Matt Miller’s critique of education in America from the January/February 2008 Atlantic Monthly: “First, kill all the school boards.” He writes that “local control has become a disaster for our schools” and that school districts are stunted by four key problems:

  1. No way to know how children are doing. And, NCLB is not helping.
  2. Stunted R&D: “Local control has kept education from attracting the research and development that drives progress, because benefits of scale are absent.”
  3. Incompetent school boards and union dominance. (No need to elaborate on this one…)
  4. Financial inequity: “Communities with high property wealth can tax themselves at low rates and still generate far more dollars per pupil than poor communities taxing themselves heavily.”

The solution he argues? Get rid of school boards and remove local control of schools. It may seem counter-intuitive, but…

Research in 46 countries by Ludger Woessmann of the University of Munich has shown that setting clear external standards while granting real discretion to schools in how to meet them is the most effective way to run a system. We need to give schools one set of national expectations, free educators and parents to collaborate locally in whatever ways work, and get everything else out of the way.

More solutions to mediocrity in American education are coming up next week.

People's Daily: China to build "artificial sun"

The Poeple’s Daily reports that,

A full superconducting experimental Tokamak fusion device, which aims to generate infinite, clean nuclear-fusion-based energy, will be built in March or April in Hefei, capital city of east China’s Anhui Province.

The device will reportedly be built for USD 37 million — 15 times less than the ITER Tokamak project — although at a smaller scale. The question begs, however, is China developing into a hot spot for cost-effective research and development?

PC Advisor: Europe's most innovative country

PC Advisor‘s Peter Sayer writes that Malta might be Europe’s most innovative country if its proportion of high technology export revenue is taken into consideration:

Malta, […] a member of the EU since May 2004, derives a greater proportion of its export revenue from high technology than any other European country, according to figures from Eurostat, the statistical service of the European Commission. High-tech goods and services accounted for 55.9 percent of Malta’s exports in 2004.

R&D in the European Union, however, remains relatively low:

Spending on R&D is one way in which companies – and countries – stay ahead of their market. Average spending on R&D was 1.9 percent of GDP (gross domestic product) in the EU in 2004, compared with 2.59 percent in the US and 3.15 percent in Japan, according to Eurostat. In Europe, 54 percent of that expenditure was financed by businesses, and the rest by governments. In the US, 63 percent of R&D was financed by business, and in Japan 75 percent.

Read the full article.