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Date:02/28/2006
Session:109th Congress (Second Session)
Witness(es):P. Roy Vagelos
Credentials:  Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Merck & Co., Inc. and Member, Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century, Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy, Division on Policy and Global Affairs, The National Academies
Chamber:Senate
Committee:Education and Early Childhood Development Subcommittee, Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, U.S. Senate
Subject:Promoting U.S. Competitiveness

RISING ABOVE THE GATHERING STORM:
ENERGIZING AND EMPLOYING AMERICA FOR A BRIGHTER ECONOMIC FUTURE

CONCERNING S. 2198
PROTECTING AMERICA’S COMPETITIVE EDGE – EDUCATION
SCIENCE AND MATH TEACHER PROVISIONS

Statement of

P. Roy Vagelos
Retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Merck & Co., Inc.

And

Member, Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy
of the 21st Century
Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy
Division on Policy and Global Affairs
The National Academies

before the

Subcommittee on Education and Early Childhood Development
Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
U.S. Senate

February 28, 2006

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee.

Thank you for this opportunity to appear before you on behalf of the National Academies’ Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century. As you know, our effort was sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine (collectively known as the National Academies). The National Academies were chartered by Congress in 1863 to advise the government on matters of science and technology.

During my testimony, I will focus on the challenges that we are facing in K through 12 education. The committee believes the education issue is the most critical challenge the United States is facing if our children and grandchildren are to inherit ever-greater opportunities for high-quality, high-paying jobs. Our solution and recommendations to respond to the nation’s challenge in K—12 science and mathematics education are the committee’s top priority.

In examining the issue of K—12 science and mathematics education, the committee found facts such as the following:

• In 1999, 68% of US 8th grade students received instruction from a mathematics teacher who did not hold a degree or certification in mathematics.i

• In 2000, 93% of students in grades 5-9 were taught physical science by a teacher lacking a major or certification in the physical sciences (chemistry, geology, general science, or physics).ii

• According to a recent survey, 86% of US voters believe that the United States must increase the number of workers with a background in science and mathematics or America’s ability to compete in the global economy will be diminished.iii

The committee then made the recommendation we call “10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds” which proposes increasing America’s talent pool by vastly improving K—12 science and mathematics education.

In developing its action steps to reach this goal, the committee first focused on what part of K—12 science and mathematics education was of greatest concern. The committee immediately recognized that many of the teachers of these subjects do not have sufficient education in these fields, and its recommendations respond to that concern.

Today, I will focus on the committee’s proposed actions related to improving the quality of our teachers. Tomorrow, Peter O’Donnell, another member of the National Academies committee, will discuss the committee’s proposed actions related to enlarging the pipeline of students who are prepared to enter college and graduate with a degree in science, mathematics, engineering, or computer science.

Of all its 20 action steps, the committee’s highest priority is a program that would annually recruit 10,000 of America’s brightest students to the K–12 science and mathematics teaching profession. The program would recruit and train excellent teachers by providing scholarships to students obtaining bachelor’s degrees in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics while gaining concurrent certification as K–12 science and mathematics teachers. They would accomplish this by taking some pedagogy courses along with their major courses. Over their careers each of these teachers would educate 1,000 students, so that each annual cadre of teachers educated in this program would impact 10 million minds.

The program would provide merit-based scholarships of up to $20,000 a year for 4 years for qualified educational expenses, including tuition and fees, and would require a commitment to 5 years of teaching service in public K–12 schools. A $10,000 annual bonus would go to program graduates working in underserved schools in inner cities and rural areas.

To provide the highest-quality education for undergraduates who want to become K–12 science and mathematics teachers, it would be important to award matching grants, perhaps $1 million a year for up to 5 years, to as many as 100 universities and colleges to encourage them to establish integrated 4-year undergraduate programs leading to bachelor’s degrees in science, engineering, or mathematics with concurrent teacher certification.

This program, modeled after a very successful program in Texas (and which is being replicated in California), takes advantage of those people who are already in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology higher education programs and offers them the ability to get into teaching. It also incorporates in-classroom teaching experiences, master K-12 teachers, and ongoing mentoring—the combination of which produces highly qualified teachers with the skills and support to remain effective in the classroom.

Our second action step focuses on strengthening the skills of 250,000 current K–12 science and mathematics teachers through summer institutes, Master’s programs, and Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate (AP and IB) professional development programs. Each of these activities also builds on very successful model programs that can be scaled up to the national level.

In the case of the summer institutes, the committee recommends that the federal government provide matching grants for state-wide and regional 1- to 2-week summer institutes to upgrade the content knowledge and pedagogy skills of as many as 50,000 practicing teachers each summer. The material covered would allow teachers to keep current with recent developments in science, mathematics, and technology and allow for the exchange of best teaching practices. The Merck Institute for Science Education for K-6 teachers is a model for this recommendation.

For the science and mathematics master’s programs, the committee recommends that the federal government provide grants to universities to develop and offer 50,000 current middle-school and high-school science, mathematics, and technology teachers (with or without undergraduate science, mathematics, or engineering degrees) 2-year, part-time master’s degree programs that focus on rigorous science and mathematics content and pedagogy. This program’s master’s teachers would provide leadership for all the programs included in our K-12 science and mathematics education recommendation. Teachers who complete this program would receive federally-funded $10,000 stipends annually for up to 5 years provided they remain in the classroom and engage in teacher leadership activities. Once the 5-year limit has been reached, teachers could pursue national certification for which many states offer a financial basis. The model for this recommendation is the University of Pennsylvania Science Teachers Institute.

In the case of AP, IB, and pre-AP or pre-IB training, the committee recommends that the federal government support the training of an additional 70,000 AP or IB and 80,000 pre-AP or pre-IB instructors to teach advanced courses in mathematics and science. Assuming satisfactory performance, teachers may receive incentive payments of up to $2000 per year, as well as $100 for each student who passes an AP or IB exam in mathematics or science. There are two models for this program: the Advanced Placement Incentive Program and Laying the Foundation, a pre-AP program.

These teachers would then participate in our proposed program, which will be discussed in more depth tomorrow by Peter O’Donnell, that would create opportunities and incentives for middle school and high school students to pursue advanced work in science and mathematics. The committee recommends that the number of students who take at least one AP or IB mathematics or science exam should be increased to 1.5 million by 2010. The committee also recommends setting a goal of tripling the number of students who pass those tests to 700,000. Students would receive incentives to both take and pass the exam including a rebate of 50% of their examination fee and a $100 mini-scholarships for each passing score on an AP or IB science or mathematics examination.

Why are we doing this? Because many of the science and mathematics teachers who are teaching these subjects have no background in the subjects that they are teaching. It is very hard for someone who does not have a physics education to turn students on to physics, because many lack a fundamental understanding of the subject. Teachers with strong content knowledge, either through a bachelors or Masters program, who also have strong pedagogy skills and access to ongoing skills updates can be truly effective in encouraging students to enter science, mathematics, and technology fields.

The PACE legislation package is harmonious with our recommendations and proposes actions for educating a new workforce with up-to-date knowledge in science and engineering. This critical challenge spans from K-12 through doctoral and post-doctoral education. We are particularly pleased that the PACE Acts include major programs across agencies to provide scholarships for students who study science, engineering, or mathematics and concurrently earn certification and commit to teaching. We believe that the bills’ programs to strengthen skills of teachers through masters programs, workshops, and training for effective Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate instruction are excellent.

By taking the actions proposed in the National Academies Gathering Storm report, we believe that the United States will be better positioned to compete as a country for high-quality, high-paying jobs for all Americans.

Thank you for providing me with this opportunity to testify before the committee. I would be pleased to answer any questions you have about the report.

*****

Endnotes

i National Science Board. 2004. Science and Engineering Indicators 2004 (NSB 04-01). Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation. Chapter 1.
ii
National Center for Education Statistics (2004), Schools and Staffing Survey, 2004. “Qualifications of the Public School Teacher Workforce: Prevalence of Out-of-Field Teaching 1987-88 to 1999-2000 (Revised),” p. 10 (
http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2002/2002603.pdf)
iii The Business Roundtable. 2006. “Innovation and U.S. Competitiveness: Addressing the Talent Gap. Public Opinion Research.” January 12. Available at: http://www.businessroundtable.org/pdf/20060112Two-pager.pdf

*****

Biographical Sketch

P. ROY VAGELOS, M.D.
Retired Chairman of the Board & Chief Executive Officer
Merck & Co., Inc. – Whitehouse Station, New Jersey 08889-0100, U.S.A

Dr. Vagelos served as Chief Executive Officer of Merck & Co. Inc., for nine years from July 1985 to June 1994. He was first elected to the Board of Directors in 1984 and served as its Chairman from April 1986 to November 1994.

Dr. Vagelos joined the worldwide health products firm in 1975 as Senior Vice President of Research and became president of its research division in 1976; in addition, starting in January 1982, he served as Senior Vice President of Merck with responsibility for strategic planning. He continued to hold both positions until 1984, when he was elected Executive Vice President.

Before assuming broader responsibilities of business leadership, Dr. Vagelos had won scientific recognition as an authority on lipids and enzymes and as a research manager. This followed a decision early in his career to put his principal energies into research rather than the practice of medicine.

Dr. Vagelos received a A.B. degree (1950) from the University of Pennsylvania, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, the academic honor society. He received his M.D. from Columbia University (1954) and was elected to Alpha Omega Alpha, the medical honor society. After internship and residency (1954-56) at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, he joined the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.

At the NIH (1956-66) he served in the National Heart Institute, holding positions in cellular physiology and biochemistry—first as Senior Surgeon and then as Head of Section of Comparative Biochemistry, both in the Laboratory of Biochemistry.

In 1966, Dr. Vagelos joined Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, as Chairman of the Department of Biological Chemistry of the School of Medicine. In addition, from 1973 to 1975, he assumed more extensive responsibilities as Director of the University’s Division of Biology and Biochemical Sciences, which he founded.

Dr. Vagelos has received honorary Doctor of Science degrees from Washington University (1980) for his research achievements and important influence on national science policy; Brown University (1982) for distinguished contributions to the advancement of knowledge as a teacher, research scientist, and head of one of the nation’s outstanding laboratories; the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (1984) for outstanding leadership in biomedical research leading to drugs and other therapeutic agents of direct benefits to mankind; New York University (1989) for contributions in helping to discover and produce medicines that both extend and enhance life; Columbia University (1990) for an extraordinary range of accomplishments in biological science, pharmaceutical research, and leadership in the pharmaceutical industry; the New Jersey Institute of Technology (1992) for his contributions to medical research; Pamukkale University in Turkey (1992); and the University of New York at Stony Brook (1994) for outstanding achievement; Mount Sinai Medical School (1997); and the University of British Columbia (1998). He received Honorary Doctor of Laws degrees for leadership in the battle to conquer diseases from Princeton University (1990), the University of Pennsylvania (1999) and Harvard University (2003). Rutgers University (1991) granted him honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree in recognition of his “ambitious agenda to develop effective cures for the most perplexing illness of our time.”

The author of more than 100 scientific papers, he received the Enzyme Chemistry Award of the American Chemical Society in 1967. He was elected in 1972 to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, and in 1993 to the American Philosophical Society. In 1989 he received the Thomas Alva Edison Sciences Award from Governor Thomas Kean. In 1993, he received the Lawrence A. Wien Prize in Social Responsibility from Columbia University. In 1994 he received the C. Walter Nichols Award from New York University’s Stern School of Business. In 1995 he received the National Academy of Science Award for Chemistry in Service to Society. In 1998 he was awarded the Prince Mahidol Award conferred by His Majesty the King in Bangkok (Thailand). In 1999 he received the Othmer Gold Medal from the Chemical Heritage Foundation and Bower Award in Business Leadership from Franklin Institute.

Dr. Vagelos was Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania from October 1994 to June 1999, having served as a trustee since 1988. He also served as Co-Chairman of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center from 1989-99, was President and CEO of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens from 1999-2001 and served in the National Research Council Committee on Science and Technology for Countering Terrorism in 2002.

He is currently Chairman of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Theravance, Inc., two biotech companies. He is also Chairman of the Board of Visitors at Columbia University Medical Center where he also chairs the Capital Campaign. He serves on a number of public policy and advisory boards, including the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center and the Danforth Foundation.

Dr. Vagelos is married to the former Diana Touliatos. They live in New Jersey, and have four children and seven grandchildren.

Dr. Vagelos was born on October 8, 1929, in Westfield New Jersey.

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