Having “the talk.” You know, the one about math and science

A new study from Intel released Friday reports that parents are more comfortable talking to their kids about not doing drugs than about math and science.

Despite a perceived importance of math and science for success, and an overwhelming willingness to be involved, the survey results reveal that parents, particularly those of teenagers, often find themselves with little more understanding of these subjects than their children and without the necessary resources to bridge this gap.

The news couldn’t come at a worse time, as America’s global standing in math and science continues to lag. Less than half of American fourth-graders are proficient in math, according to the most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress report released last week. That’s almost double from the level in 1990, but stagnant since 2007 after almost two decades of increases. And I think we can all agree, it’s far from where we should be.

Hey, calculus is hard, and not everyone is going to grow up to be a software engineer or neurosurgeon (this coming from someone with degrees at varying levels in political science, Spanish and journalism). But this is the country that invented the light bulb, decoded the human genome, and led the global information revolution.

You’re not a “number person?” Don’t let that stop you from being involved in your kids’ education. Even if you don’t pick up any linear algebra, an hour spent with your child at the kitchen table might be a more valuable lesson.

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