Improving New York’s Future

Education is Vital to Retooling Our Economic Competitive Edge
February 23, 2007

New York state is a historic leader in innovation. Much of that prosperity stems from the millions of New Yorkers who entered skilled trades and manual labor, which provided them a comfortable level of living and gave our state and nation a strong economy. Today the world is much different.

A globalizing economy has made “outsourcing” and “downsizing” more than just economic terms. For many in New York, especially here in the upstate region, those terms have been the cause of hard-felt job loss and necessitated job relocation, retraining, or pre-mature retirement for thousands. The best way to ensure our children’s future is bright with opportunity is to encourage them to seek careers in the fields of math and science.

To help encourage students, the Assembly Minority Conference and I have introduced the “New Edison Project,” which is a series of proposals that represent creative ideas that would rekindle an interest in the next generation of students to explore the science and math fields. New York will need graduates in these fields so it can become and remain a competitive leader in the new, technology-driven global economy. The New Edison Project looks to foster an interest in the sciences and math by encouraging creation of public/private partnerships, providing tax credits for donations, and expanding the TAP program for math, science and engineering majors. Our plan includes several new grants and other incentives, including:

  • Advanced Curriculum of the Sciences (A.C.S.) High Schools - These schools would be either distinct high schools or programs within high schools, which provide students with enriched math, science and engineering curricula.
  • The Microscope Fund - This would establish a low-interest loan of up to $50,000 to high schools across our state.
  • Corporate Tax Credit - A tax credit of 50 percent would be provided to New York businesses for gifts up to $50,000 for New York high schools participating in the Project Lead the Way initiative.
  • Celebrity Media Plan - A media campaign would be developed to highlight celebrities (television, film and those of the math and science world) to draw attention to math, science and engineering career paths.
  • NYS Science Fair (The New Edison Medal) - The New Edison Project includes the creation of a New York state sponsored science fair intended to lead all other states in participation and prizes awarded.
  • Loan Forgiveness - Includes a loan forgiveness program for math, science and engineering majors.
  • Edison TAP (E-TAP) - Recommends an expansion of the TAP program that specifically targets those students entering their sophomore year as full-time students enrolled in a math, science, or engineering major.
  • The Foundation Fund - Creates a $2 million grant fund available to graduate students in all sectors to pursue scientific research related to their graduate or doctoral studies.
  • Science, Math and Technology State Commission - Investigates and makes recommendations regarding strengthening science, math and technology education throughout the state.

Our children are falling behind when it comes to math and science. We need to attract business and science ventures to New York. We have the resources necessary, and now we need to ensure that we continue to build an intelligent, educated base for our workforce to fully take advantage of those resources.