The essence of democracy in the U.S. is threatened by our own education system which, in the era of No Child Left Behind, fails to meet the demands of a 21st century world. Complex issues — resource allocation, technology, genetics — require a scientifically literate population, but today math and science education are under siege in the classroom, where teaching "to the test" must take priority. The impact is disastrous: without STEM, we lose not just science or math, but also critical thinking and problem solving skills so crucial lifelong success.
And the economic implications are clear: by 2030, China will have 200 million college graduates — more than the total U.S. workforce — and by 2020 India will be graduating four times as many students from college as the US. The truth is: our children are not being adequately prepared to innovate and compete in the global workforce. But the answer is right under our nose, in the form of a rich network of 15K U.S. informal learning institutions.