State of the Union

during the presidents speech for those of you interested President Bush said that he wants to increase funding for math and science programs and to make American students able to be more competitive with students in other countries in the fields of math and science.

My question to the FIRST community is
Do you think that this new initiative will make government funding more available to FIRST teams since FIRST is all about Math and Science?

I don’t believe we’ll see teams sponsored by the federal government directly, in fact it all depends on where the money goes. Likely it will go to the school system. As far as my school goes that would probably improve the likelihood of being sponsored by our school continuously. but if the words “math and science” were the furthest extent of detailed info, the money could go almost anywhere.

Not likely,
It’s probably more No Child Left Behind nonsense.
I think the government considers FIRST a private enterprise that has eduational elements. They’d rather put more money into actual schools.
That NASA supplies sponsorships and grants and is far as it will go.

I am sorry that I don’t have the exact wording from what he said, it wasn’t up on as of yet but I also dint think that there will be federal government funded teams but there is a much stronger chance that if schools math and science departments are funded better there will be more money for FIRST it could turn out to be a great circle to further the education process and get FIRST into more main stream

I’m sorry, but I don’t have the patience to watch the state of the union, or as I call it, “10 seconds of speech, 3 minutes of applause, repeat”

Honestly, I would hope that money gets directed to public schools rather than robotics teams. Our country’s math and science departments are terrible.

Paul Dennis

P.S.: Not that FIRST isn’t great and everything, I just have priorities.

That would be great if every team had an equal budget and it was funded by the government. Now I don’t mean to stop fundraising or stop “Hounding” sponsors, just that the money could be used to teach others about FIRST. Secondly, our team just got cut $10,000 off our budget from GM, so we’re only going to the regionals if we win which in that case we will get $10,000 from GM to go to the regional. Everyone has their own opinion about it, and that’s totally fine.

Color me cynical (and this is NOT a political rant – it wouldn’t matter if Mr. Bush was a Democrat), but “additional funding for education” doesn’t mean “more money for students who want to not merely pass minimal standards tests, but really excel.” In my cough years of experience, it will mean more money funneled into those things on which school administrators are measured. These tend to be increasing standardized test scores (in Washington, that would be the WASL and don’t get me started) and insuring that “no child is left behind.” Working to provide life skills to students who are educationally disadantaged is a fine thing, but, IMO, it frequently comes at the expense of programs for students who want to excel in learning. I know that our own local public school systems spend far more on “special education” than they do on programs for academic high achievers.

The $25,000 it would take to fully fund a FIRST team (a robot and two tournaments) would be play money in a special ed program that serves far fewer students than a FIRST team will. It’s sad, but providing exceptional educational opportunities to exceptional students is not a priority in (most) public education systems in the US.

Having several friends who are teachers or administrators in local school districts, I would be willing to bet ten US dollars that the typical public high school spends more to fulfill state and federal reporting requirements than a FIRST team would cost. Eliminate a big stack of paperwork, lay off some back-office paperwork movers, and spend the money on special programs. How about a world in which educational enrichment programs get as much money as varsity sports? How about a Title 9 program for those who want to develop brains as much as bodies?

Just dreaming…

Last year our team budget was $7,200 total. This year, it is $9,250. I appreciate that the loss of GM money is painful, but you are still one of the “haves” of FIRST. Enjoy it. If we win our only regional, we will still have to watch the Atlanta Championships on TV (if we are lucky enough for them to be televised, and that they aren’t cut off before the end by the cable company like they were last year).

[Please, there is some minor political comments in here about the No Child Left Behind law. I am not criticizing/flaming any single person or party, but rather expressing my viewpoints on the law itself. Actually, both parties initially supported NCLB, so in a way I am criticizing both.]

Begin expression about NCLB:

Please don’t get me started about NCLB. I really don’t want to start a political flame war, but as a student who is in the top ten of my class, I know first hand how terrible it is. Sure, it might aim to try to bring the ‘lower’ students up, but it only drags the top students down. And I hate being deprived of trying to learn as much as I can, because the teacher has to shift his/her focus from teaching new material to reviewing old stuff ad nausum. :frowning:
End expression about NCLB:

And this is why I love FIRST; because there is nothing holding me back on how much I can learn about anything and everything. :slight_smile:


The $25,000 it would take to fully fund a FIRST team (a robot and two tournaments) would be play money in a special ed program that serves far fewer students than a FIRST team will. It’s sad, but providing exceptional educational opportunities to exceptional students is not a priority in (most) public education systems in the US.
*Alright, here is a little more political comments. *

This is like one of my favorite quotes from my physical education teacher.
“You have twenty tomato plants: ten of them are perfectly healthy, and the other ten are barely surviving. You only have enough fertilizer for ten plants. Do you give the fertilizer to the ten plants that are practically dead, and hope for a 30% increase in the amounts of tomatoes they produce, or do you give the fertilizer to the ten healthy plants, which would result in an increase of their tomato output of 80%? Sadly, 9 out of ten times the govermnent tries to squeeze tomatoes out of dead plants.”

Anyway, now that I have stepped off the soap box, those are my two cents.

For starters, any opportunity to have an open debate about the state of education in this country, especially STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) is good! As much as I hope that this debate will bring forth increased funding, support and resources to these areas, even if it doesn’t, I hope that it will, at least, bring attention.

The goal of FIRST is to inspire, not necessarily to educate. It is left up to the professionals (ie, teachers) to provide the formal education. As an engineering mentor, I see as one of my roles to show the students new techniques and ideas that they may have never seen, to provide a level of curiosity such they want to go back to their teachers and explore and learn why that technique or idea works.

Although I am a teacher, in that I teach things to the students, I am not a professional educator. I do not have training in educational theory, practice or development. Teachers are the educational specialists of our society, and they should be recognized as such. Although everyone may be a teacher, it is a long step from teacher to educator. We should be relying on the professional educators to provide the education to the students.

FIRST does a very good job in meeting its goal and mission: to inspire. I hope that the discussion (and hopeful action) of increasing funding for science and mathematics education provides the backbone and core educational skills necessary to support and promote the interest and excitement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.


On a positive note, in the address Bush said he was going to increase research on altrnative fuels 22.5%. He is also going to be supporting nanotechnology research (my future major at UVA :smiley: ). Not bad, if you ask me!

At my school, we had been told as a faculty that we needed to increase “RIGOR”, increase test scores, and foster relationships with the students.I was one of a group of teachers that wanted to start a pre-engineering house in our school. We would use “Project Lead the Way” in association with FIRST to develop an integrated curriculum. We were shot down as being elitist and that it would not help all the students. It was suggested that perhaps we could merge it with the art department (apparently there is a big crossover there). Sigh. Business as usual.

Who was your Phys Eds professor at college? Dr E. Scrooge? He really believes the poor and uneducation should be left to die, and decrease the surplus population?

Students are not tomato plants. Our public education system is intended to avoid the very situation that Charles Dickens wrote about in ‘A Christmas Carol’: our society spawing children like the allegorical figures of Ignorance and Want, who appear to Scrooge as two “wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable” children.

In eduaction there is a critical mass of knowledge. Once a person reaches a certain level they are able to take on responsibility for their own (life long) continued education.

Children who never learn to read have no hope.

[Politics and/or religion on a public forum: here we go again!]

I’m making my own slightly political comments here:

The answer is, GET MORE FERTILIZER! I’m shouting this at the government. Just like someone mentioned earlier (though I’m not sure I agree) that 25K is play money for a special ed program, 1 million is nothing out of a huge military budget. The military budget for the US of A is more than the next top ten contries COMBINED. We have the finest military in the world, and yet our schools have no AC or heat. I’m not saying that the quote above is wrong (though I’ll get to it in a second) it’s just that we need more fertilizer.

My cousins used to go to public schools in Atlanta. They hated it. For one thing, because of NCLB, they were, with a bunch of other families in their area, required to rent an apartment in another district just to go to a halfway decent school. But whatever.

The problem is, we can’t just give up on kids. This is, I suppose, the good intention of NCLB (though I don’t like it). The answer, again, is more fertilizer, not less.

Just my comments. For the record, I’m a Democrat/Independent (I have some really strange views on business).

Good day to you all!
Paul Dennis

P.S.: Anyone think this is sounding blogish? :yikes:

The money needs to go to those schools that teach Reading, Writing AND Math instead of how to feel good about yourselves. If you do well in school you will feel good about yourself.