I was in the Lovettsville Library the other day, looking at a 3 D pair of plastic glasses made on a state of the art printer at the Leesburg library, and a library patron asked if I’d heard that the County had killed a state of the art math and science library for the County.
It’s true, they have.
Our elected leaders almost always favor development that covers and destroys open fields and trees and wild life so developers can build more roads and small artificial parks where once were rolling fields and trees.
In this dystopic world of excess development, one tragic irony is that our Loudoun County Board of Supervisors has decided to steal funds dedicated to a science and tech library and to spend it instead on roads and parks!
Could we possibly make worse choices in this County, that passes itself off as a high tech community, and among the wealthiest in the nation, than to disfavor advancement in science and math?
America has been steadily sliding in global education rankings for decades.
Our students are increasingly unable to compete globally in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields.
We could put a man on the moon years ago, with mathematicians doing 3 decimal physics math calculations in their head, but we can’t teach Johnny simple ‘rithmetic today.
The U.S. Department of Education, in its 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, reported only 33 percent of eighth-graders tested proficient in math at grade level.
Don’t expect Johnny to be using a slip stick any time soon, nor doing much addition or subtraction in his head.
In 2013, only 36 percent of eighth-graders were proficient in math, and in 2015 (the test is given in odd-numbered years), only 33 percent were proficient.
The trend is drifting in the wrong direction (that means Johnny is doing worse each year).
When students reach college, they choose to pursue non-STEM degrees, and too many struggle to find jobs upon graduation.
We have tilted America toward the service industries in the Information Age.
But what information can one process without a knowledge of basic math and science in the age of the ever expanding digital revolution?
U.S. employers are unsurprisingly having a hard time filling STEM jobs.
If we really care about the children, then gravel and concrete are no substitute for teaching them geometry and calculus or giving them libraries that promote that understanding.
Economic projections for the next decade show we will need approximately 1 million more professionals in STEM fields than our education system will produce.
If we want to maintain our historical pre-eminence in science and technology, we must increase the number of students graduating with STEM degrees by 34 percent each year.
$47.4 million was dedicated for Loudoun’s STEM library, focused on math and science, with meeting rooms, state-of-the-art technology and equipment, and a 500-seat auditorium.
It was anticipated that the funds would start to flow in July this year.
The Lovettsville library patron had it right.
“I think we need to understand better what the project is, what exactly is the vision,” reportedly said finance committee Chairman Matthew F. Letourneau (R-Dulles). “And the board, I think, really needs to buy into it and make a decision as to whether we really want to invest the money into it.”
Mark Miller, Chairman of the Loudoun Public Library Board of Trustees, reportedly said, “It’s more a science-technology research library, and the vision is framed in the sense that we’re trying to expand the educational reach and spectrum of what the libraries offer …”’
But for Letourneau and the Board vision and reach and scientific offerings are apparently beyond their ken –they’d rather use the money to replace a field with a park.