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Xerox CEO calls for educational reform

In a visit to the Detroit Economic Club on Sept. 8, Ursula Burns, CEO and chairwoman of Xerox Corp., said that if the United States wants to keep its lead in the global economy, it needs more home-grown scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, reports the Detroit News. “The path that we’re on in education, particularly in science, technology, engineering, and math, makes it impossible for anybody who has a bit of a brain to sit by and watch what’s happening,” said Burns, who earned engineering degrees from the Polytechnic Institute of NYU and Columbia University and is the first African-American woman to head a Fortune 500 company. Burns noted that Asian nations turn out three times as many students who earn bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering. And in just one generation, the United States dropped from first to 12th in the world in college graduation rates and is headed to 16th. To address the problem, Burns said, business leaders and schools need to focus on effectively teaching science and math, provide students with inspiration and mentors who can show them what kinds of careers are available, and measure how many students graduate to work in those fields. The motivation, she said, could be the troubling statistic that 150,000 U.S. engineering jobs with an average salary of more than $60,000 went unfilled in 2008. Because of the lack of qualified workers, those jobs were shipped offshore, she said…

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