In late September a report entitled "The Quiet Crisis: Falling Short in Producing American Scientific and Technical Talent" was released and can be found on the web site www.bestworkforce.org. Taken with a couple of other documents they portend a "perfect storm" in the next 15 to 20 years. A storm that calculus-reform should address.
The components of the storm? Besides "The Quiet Crisis" take a look at the report from the Glenn Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching in the 21st Century (www.ed.gov/americacounts/glenn) and the report from the US Department of Education "Meeting the Highly Qualified Teachers Challenge: The Secretary's Annual Report on Teacher Quality" (www. title2.org).
They tell us that over the next decade 1/4 of the science and engineering workforce will retire (Quiet Crisis) and 2/3 of the teaching force will retire (Glenn). And that by 2006 teachers of mathematics and science in BOTH high school and middle school will be required to have the equivalent of a content area major in the topics they teach (ED). The federally funded Teacher Quality Enhancement Grants to states are the beginning attempts to raise the level of preparation for pre-service middle school teachers and to recruit larger cohorts of the same.
The presence of these reports could be a source of relief if not for the fact that they all propose to feed at the same small trough. They all have their eyes on the same "pool of talent". Granted the pool is now considered to be multicultural and diverse. But it is a strategy focused on the Talented Tenth of this country's young people not upon the yet-to-be-developed math/science talents of the other 90%.
It simply does not look like the numbers are there unless over the next decade this country accomplishes a radical redistribution of fields of study at the bachelor and associate levels in the direction of science and engineering. And the bottle neck there is the CALCULUS.