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[Susan notes:

Here's the memorable line: It is education for the poor that is bad. And instead of fixing that, we pile "rigor" onto everybody else--so that kids in places like Newton are smothered by it. See the movie Race to Nowhere for a sobering look at the "excellence" burdens kids carry.]

Published in New York Times
10/29/2010

To the editor

As a scientist (Ph.D., molecular biology) and an inventor (several patents) who works at a biotech startup, I think that your idea [48th is not a good place] that there is something wrong with having half of all patents in the United States awarded to foreign companies, and that we can do something about that, is just silly nostalgia.



The post-World War II era of United States dominance is as over and dead as the Ottoman Empire; nothing will bring it back. We have to learn to live with the fact that universities and companies in other countries are just as innovative as we are, and, since there are a lot of people in Europe and China and India, a substantial fraction of cutting-edge research will occur overseas.



Also, I disagree that American science education is bad; it is education for the poor that is bad. In wealthy suburbs like Newton, Mass., the quality and rigor of the middle- and high-school science classes is world-class (the 10th-grade honors chemistry textbook in the Newton school system is at a higher level than my college textbook).





Ezra S. Abrams


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