is the chairman and editor-in-chief of U.S. News & World Report
and the chairman and publisher of the New York Daily News. He is also chief executive and chairman of Boston Properties Inc., a major real estate firm he cofounded after serving as senior vice president and chief financial officer at Cabot, Cabot & Forbes. Mr. Zuckerman is a regular commentator on The McLaughlin Group public affairs program.
He serves on the board of directors for the Broad Center for the Management of School Systems and the International Peace Institute, where he is also treasurer, as a trustee of Memorial Sloan-Kettering, and as a co-chair of the Bipartisan Policy Center Cyber Security Task Force. He is also a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the International Institute for Strategic Studies, and the Bank of America Global Wealth & Investment Management Committee. Mr. Zuckerman is a former chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and a past president of the board of trustees of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston.
Mr. Zuckerman is a graduate of McGill University, McGill Law School, the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, and Harvard Law School. He is a former associate professor of city and regional planning at the Harvard Graduate School of Design and a former lecturer in city and regional planning at Yale University.
Why do you believe that STEM education and workforce development are critical to our nation’s future?
Our future depends on the strength of our scientific spine. The skills derived from a STEM education are the mission-critical elements of the jobs of tomorrow, for they are directly linked to economic productivity and competitive products. Moreover, education is more closely correlated with upward mobility than anything else. It’s the best way to reduce excessive inequality in incomes and opportunities, and the best way to avoid having our society degenerate into a class system. The men and women who will make up America’s tomorrow and the core of its economy are in its classrooms today, and there are way too few of them in the fields of science and technology that create the dynamic of our economy today, the future of our economy, and the best-paying jobs.
How do you believe STEM education can improve a nation’s competitiveness?
A highly educated and skilled labor force is what drives innovation and production. As the nation shifts into a new, non-industrial economy, we will need a well-trained, technically competent workforce to manage and staff the science and technology businesses that create the high-paying jobs. Today, while 24 million Americans can’t find work, hundreds of thousands of employers can’t find workers. This year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, we will add approximately 120,000 jobs requiring at least a four-year degree in computer science. Alas, we will only produce 40,000 graduates with such degrees. And each engineering job typically leads to five additional jobs, experts say. It is astonishing that only a small fraction of the nation’s high schools offer an Advanced Placement course in computer science, when 40 percent of small businesses say they have job openings they can’t fill because applicants are unqualified—a percentage that has doubled in the last three years alone. Our shortfall in education is the economic equivalent of a permanent national recession.
Beyond standards, what are the first steps we should take to curb the STEM education crisis?
Besides strengthening public-school math and science curricula, early childhood education should be improved, and both the government and colleges should provide more financial and academic support to students who excel in STEM. Fifteen years of research has shown that, of everything within the control of a school, the factor with the most effect on learning is the quality and effectiveness of teachers. So if we want students to better understand math and science, we must find ways to improve teachers’ knowledge of these subjects. We are going to have to rethink the process of recruiting, evaluating, and supporting STEM teachers. Government must multiply funds for vocational training and invest more in community colleges, which can dramatically increase the pool of skilled workers. And broaden access to computer science.
What area of STEM are you most passionate about?
Until we get such programs properly underway, we should, as Microsoft
has proposed, add 20,000 annual visas for foreigners with much-needed skills. We ignore the benefits of immigrant talent and the experience of Silicon Valley, where over half the science and engineering workforce is foreign-born and where 1 in 4 engineering and technology companies—firms that have generated hundreds of thousands of jobs—have at least one immigrant founder. Foreign workers are not job destroyers--they are job creators, and not only that. They are job multipliers. Barring their entry or residence means they will compete against us in the industries that are both growing and competitive.
One-third of our doctoral students are foreigners, yet remarkably, once they earn their advanced degrees we escort them to the border to go and join our biggest competitors. It is astounding that we attract the brightest and the best brains to our universities, and then send them packing. We must re-conceptualize immigration as a recruiting tool and open the door to the skilled and the educated.
What STEM initiative that your company has supported are you most proud of?
We have a really obvious challenge. We know what the need is. We know what the benefits are. We’ve got to find some way to push this issue to the forefront of awareness of the American public. And this is what both U.S. News & World Report and the New York Daily News
have been committed to and will be committed to. We know it is critical not only to the economic future of our country but also to the economic future of millions of our young ones.