NCSE Endorses a Call to Action: Innovation: An American Imperative

US Fish and Wildlife Service/Mike Lockhart via Wikimedia Commons

The National Center for Science Education was recently invited to endorse Innovation: An American Imperative (PDF)—a “call to action by American industry, higher education, science, and engineering leaders urging Congress to enact policies and make investments that ensure the United States remains the global innovation leader.”

The call to action was inspired by a 2014 report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream, which warned of the risks of serious damage to the most vibrant scientific sector in the world caused by short-sighted federal policies that fail to support innovation. Following the report’s lead, Innovation: An American Imperative urges Congress to renew the federal commitment to scientific discovery, make permanent a strengthened federal tax credit for research and development, and take further steps to keep the United States at the forefront of innovation. Of particular interest to NCSE, of course, was the call to improve STEM education.

Obviously, NCSE enthusiastically welcomes the emphasis on science education. Protecting the integrity of the science classroom from ideologically driven efforts to eliminate or dilute the teaching of evolution and climate change is our core mission. But we recognize that a vibrant and productive scientific enterprise is like an ecosystem—its various parts are intimately dependent on each other. Healthy and consistent funding levels, merit-based and politically neutral allocation of research funds, and the other priorities included in the imperative are as essential to the well-being of science in the United States as is a sound science education for our children.

Scientists know this. That’s why thousands of them are members of NCSE, and why a dozen major scientific societies, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Chemical Society, the American Geophysical Union, are official supporting organizations of NCSE. We are happy to stand up and be counted with these and many other science and teacher societies, universities, and corporations, and call on Congress to do what’s necessary to ensure the future of the U.S. scientific enterprise.