Carnegie Corporation Of New York And Institute For Advanced Study Establish Joint Commission On Math And Science Education

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Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York and Phillip Griffiths, former director and professor of mathematics of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), announced the creation of a new high-level joint commission to address the continuing concern that America’s education systems , both K-12 and higher education, are not providing the level of instruction in science, mathematics and technology needed to participate and succeed in a knowledge-based global economy.

The Carnegie-IAS Commission on Mathematics and Science Education, a partnership between the New York-based grantmaking foundation and the Princeton-based center for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry, will assess the current state of science and math teaching, identify and analyze successes and failures, and provide recommendations for improving K-12 science, math and technology education.

The Commission comprises a mix of knowledgeable, distinguished individuals and brings together a broad range of experiences and expertise from government, academia, industry, cultural organizations and educators (see complete list of Commissioners below). The Commission will convene its first meeting today at the American Museum of Natural History.

“America risks jeopardizing its prosperity, security and indeed its very way of life if we do not improve the math and science literacy of our students. Mathematics is a critical gateway subject for college success and business and technical careers at all levels, and it is the foundation of higher order thinking. The sciences provide both a method of approach to problem solving and basic knowledge needed in our complex society. It should be unacceptable to each of us that we spend more per pupil than nearly any other nation, yet the performance of American students in math and science continues to compare poorly relative to their peers overseas,” said Vartan Gregorian. “As our global economy becomes ever more reliant on a workforce with technological know-how, we must be steadfast in our commitment to improve the capacity of our schools to provide the kind and quality of science, math and technology education that our students need, and our nation demands.”

The Commission expects that the final report’s findings, targeted for early 2009, will be relevant to federal, state and local officials, university and faculty administrators, and leaders of the business and philanthropic communities. In offering its recommendations, the Commission will emphasize practical, incremental changes—often improving upon what is already working – rather than suggesting wholesale, system-wide reform. The Commission will consult with policymakers, practitioners and scholars in a variety of fields, and commission research syntheses to inform its final report.

“Science and math education is too important to our individual and collective futures to be left to founder. The time for bold action is now,” said IAS’s Phillip Griffiths, Chair of the Commission. “The Commission must find practical solutions to increasing the size and improving the subject matter knowledge of our nation’s teaching force and promote workable models offering satisfying, inspiring instruction to motivate student interest in math and science.”

Carnegie Corporation of New York and IAS have established the joint Commission at a time when there is a sense of deep national apprehension that one of the most important components of our continued economic success and prosperity—America’s technological and scientific pre-eminence—is fast eroding as other regions increase their investments in the development of highly skilled workforces geared toward innovation and the creation of new enterprises.

The Carnegie-IAS Commission on Mathematics and Science Education will learn from and build upon the findings of previous blue ribbon panels on math and science instruction. A series of reports and action plans issued over the past 20 years by prominent national organizations representing business, education, philanthropy and technology interests have alerted the country to our failure to provide the investments in education necessary to maintain our international leadership in science and technology or to produce sufficient numbers of technology workers. While there are many examples of successful science and technology programs in schools and colleges, indicators of genuine advances, and a body of research that provides insight into how to improve educational institutions, the Commission acknowledges the conventional wisdom that little progress has been made in providing enriched science and technology education.

The Commission’s work takes place within a context of transformative change in global labor markets as existing industries reconfigure or disappear altogether while others are being created, spurred by advances in science and technology. This changing landscape demands both higher levels of achievement in mathematics by all students during high school and better understanding of the kind and quality of mathematics and science education the nation should be providing in college to larger numbers of students.


Phillip A. Griffiths (chair)
Professor of Mathematics and Past Director, Institute for Advanced Study

Michele Cahill (co-chair)
Vice President, National Programs and Program Director, Urban Education, Carnegie Corporation of New York

Bruce M. Alberts
Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco and Editor-in-Chief, Science

Larry Berger
Founder and CEO, Wireless Generation

Donald L. Carcieri
Governor of Rhode Island

Ralph J. Cicerone
President, National Academy of Sciences

Rudolph F. Crew
Professor of Clinical Education, Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California

Norman C. Francis
President, Xavier University of Louisiana

Richard B. Freeman
Professor of Economics, Harvard University

Ellen V. Futter
President, American Museum of Natural History

Louis V. Gerstner, Jr.
Senior Advisor, The Carlyle Group,

Neil R. Grabois
Consultant and President Emeritus, Colgate University

Vartan Gregorian Ex officio
President, Carnegie Corporation of New York

Susan Hockfield
President, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

James B. Hunt, Jr.
Partner, Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice

Susanna Loeb
Associate Professor of Education, Stanford University and
Co-Director, Policy Analysis for California Education

Thomas W. Payzant
Senior Fellow, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Thomas F. Taft, Sr.
President, Taft, Taft and Haigler, PA

Philip Uri Triesman
Professor of Mathematics, University of Texas at Austin and
Director, Charles A. Dana Center

Katherine E. Ward
Biology Teacher, Aragon High School (San Mateo, CA)

Gene Wilhoit
Executive Director, Council of Chief State School Officers

Suzanne M. Wilson
Professor of Education and Chair of the Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University

Gary A. Ybarra
Professor of the Practice and Director of Undergraduate Studies, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Duke University


Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.” For more than 95 years the Corporation has carried out Carnegie’s vision of philanthropy by building on his two major concerns: international peace and advancing education and knowledge. As a private grantmaking foundation, the Corporation will invest more than $100 million this year in nonprofits to fulfill Mr. Carnegie's mission, “to do real and permanent good in this world.” The Corporation’s capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of approximately $3 billion on September 30, 2007.


The Institute for Advanced Study is one of the world’s leading centers for theoretical research and intellectual inquiry. The Institute exists to encourage and support fundamental scholarship – the original, often speculative, thinking that produces advances in knowledge. It provides for the mentoring of younger scholars by Faculty, and it offers all who work there the freedom to undertake research that will make significant contributions in any of the broad range of fields in the sciences and humanities studied at the Institute.