Contact: Phil Oliva, (518) 455-3756
For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Assembly Minority Unveils "New Edison Project"
Package of initiatives designed to encourage academic study of math and sciences

Assembly Minority members today unveiled the New Edison Project, a package of initiatives designed to encourage New York's students to study and excel in math and sciences. The package builds upon the existing programs, creates new ones and also includes related initiatives submitted by the governor in his 2006-2007 Executive Budget Proposal.

Assembly Minority Leader James Tedisco (R,C,I-Schenectady, Saratoga) said America is slowly losing its grip on global innovation preeminence and that today's students are drifting further away from math and sciences.

"We are still the leading engine for innovation in the world, but our oil is running dry," said Tedisco. "We have bright young people in this country, but they are interested in other fields like law, fashion and entertainment. We need more doctors, engineers and computer scientists."

The National Science Board found that the number of American 18 to 24-year-olds who receive science degrees has fallen to 17th in the world, whereas the United States ranked third three decades ago. In engineering specifically, universities in Asian countries now produce eight times as many bachelor's degrees as the United States.

Also of concern, said Tedisco, is the fact that with the rise of the global economy many more foreign students, in countries such as China and India, who once filled a growing number of American-based hi-tech jobs, are now choosing not to emigrate because they can find work and a fair wage in their native countries.

"We have a vacuum and we have only one choice and that is to help our kids rise up to the challenge. Our economy depends on this and we cannot fail," said Tedisco.

The New Edison Project offers the following proposals:

  • Creation of six new regionally-based high schools, or programs within existing high schools throughout the state, geared toward enriched math, science and engineering curricula.

  • Introduce the non-profit Project Lead the Way (PLTW) program into 100 more high schools. PLTW currently exists in 200 high schools and is a four-year sequence of courses which, when combined with college preparatory mathematics and science courses in high school, introduces students to the scope, rigor and discipline of engineering and engineering technology prior to entering college.

  • Celebrity Media Plan to use celebrities from sports, entertainment and hi-tech in an ad campaign to promote the message that it is "cool" to excel in math and science.

  • NYS Science Fair with financial awards to winning high schools and scholarships for winning participants.

  • Loan forgiveness program for math, science and engineering majors who choose to work in New York upon graduation.

  • Additional $500 E-TAP award for math, science and engineering majors.

  • Grant funding available to graduate students to pursue scientific research related to their graduate or doctoral studies.

  • Support of Governor's proposals including the Summer Institutes of Math and Science for students and the Math and Science Teacher Initiative.

"Study after study shows that our children are lagging behind in math and science," said Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. (R,I,WF-Sag Harbor), ranking Minority member on the Assembly Education Committee. "The New Edison Project is an exciting new initiative that will help New York lead the way in the teaching of math and science. The Project aims to help train the next generation of scientists, engineers and doctors who will create new medical and scientific breakthroughs and help New York's economy grow and flourish."

"New York needs to again be a magnet for innovation and scientific progress," said Assemblyman Joel M. Miller (R,C-Poughkeepsie), ranking Minority member on the Assembly Higher Education Committee. "The New Edison Project gives a major boost to higher education and will enable New York to be in the forefront of science and technology."

"Project Lead the Way is extremely excited about this opportunity to contribute to New York State's future educational and economic success," said Richard Blais, Vice President of Project Lead the Way.

"These proposals represent a series of creative ideas that would address the need to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers that New York State will need to build and sustain an innovation-based economy," said Daniel B. Walsh, President/CEO of the Business Council of New York State, Inc. "We applaud this effort and hope these ideas are part of a broad bipartisan effort to invest in a high-tech economy of the future."

"Tech Valley, and other centers for technological innovation in New York State, cannot possibly achieve their greatest potential without the existence of a scientifically and technologically literate workforce," said Lester Rubenfeld, Director, Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. "This, in turn, is influenced by the existence of classroom teachers who are deeply knowledgeable of the content they teach, and who are capable of integrating cutting edge, interactive technologies into their curricula. It is to these issues that the New Edison Project is directed, and I applaud the Assembly Minority Conference and the others involved in this for their attempt to make this a reality."

Total new funding for the New Edison Project is estimated to be $29 million.

New York State Assembly
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