Fox Gins Up Outrage Over Obama's Observation That The U.S. Has Fallen Behind In Math And Science Education

Fox News, looking to manufacture a new controversy, is reporting that President Obama warned that the United States has “fallen behind” in math and science education and claiming that Obama “bad-mouthed” the U.S. with those comments. But President Bush also warned that the U.S. was falling behind in math and science when launching the American Competitiveness Initiative in 2006.

Fox's Starnes Flips Out That Obama Said U.S. Has “Fallen Behind” In Math And Science

Fox's Todd Starnes: “Obama Bad-Mouthed The United States ... Telling Teenagers That The United States Has 'Fallen Behind' In Education.” Reporting on comments President Obama made during a state visit to Australia, Fox News' Todd Starnes accused Obama of complaining about the United States while talking to Australian teens:

President Obama bad-mouthed the United States during a visit to an Australian high school, telling teenagers that the United States has “fallen behind” in education, according to a White House pool report.

He told young people at Campbell High School the United States has “fallen behind” when it comes to math and science education - explaining why he made it a priority in his administration. [, 11/16/11]

Fox Nation Amplifies Starnes. Fox Nation quickly linked to Starnes' post:

[Fox Nation, 11/16/11]

But President Bush Also Warned That The U.S. Was Falling Behind In Math And Science

Bush Noted That The U.S. Was “Falling Behind In Math And Science.” In a 2006 speech lauding his American Competitiveness Initiative, President Bush warned, “By the time our kids get into high school, we've fallen behind most of the developed world in math and science.” Bush went on to say:

I want to repeat to you again, if we don't have the skill sets necessary to compete for the jobs of the 21st century, they'll go somewhere else. If our kids do have the skill set necessary to compete for the jobs of the 21st century, the standard of living of our country is going to improve.

And that's the challenge we face. So I set up -- recognizing that we need to do better in math and science, I set up what's called a national math panel. It's a way to analyze -- we got experts coming together, and they're going to analyze the best teaching methodology for math, the best curriculum for math. We did the same thing for reading, by the way. We set up a group of experts on reading. And they helped states and local districts understand what works, how best to make sure every child can read. And it's working. Just told you, it's working because we're measuring.

We need to do the same thing for math. We need to make sure that our teachers, our school boards, our principals, our superintendents, our governors understand what works. You cannot set an objective and achieve that objective unless you have the tactics necessary to do that. And so we're going to call the experts together. They'll be presenting a report to Margaret and myself by January 31st of 2007. It will be a really important study, because, again, it will give -- it will help states and local school districts have the methodology, the teaching methods necessary to help achieve an important objective.

And then we're going to implement what's called a Math Now program that will get those recommendations into the teacher's hands. But there's also another interesting aspect of Math Now, which I think is vital, and that is, when we measure and find a child slipping behind in math in the 8th or 9th grade, that child gets extra help. We do that in the 3rd and 4th grades when it comes to reading; we need to apply that same standard of help for a child as they head into the high school.

If you want to deal with the problem of the United States of America falling behind in math and science, you focus on the problem, and you focus on it with what works and money and extra help. And that's exactly what we intend to do to make sure that we begin to lay that foundation for a competitive tomorrow. [George W. Bush White House Archives, 4/19/06]

In Fact, Independent Assessments Also Warn That The U.S. Is Falling Behind In Math And Science Education

Washington Post: “U.S. Teens Trail Peers Around The World On Math-Science Test.” In 2007, The Washington Post reported:

The disappointing performance of U.S. teenagers in math and science on an international exam, in scores released yesterday, has sparked calls for improvement in public schools to help the country keep pace in the global economy.

The scores from the 2006 Program for International Student Assessment showed that U.S. 15-year-olds trailed their peers from many industrialized countries. The average science score of U.S. students lagged behind those in 16 of 30 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, a Paris-based group that represents the world's richest countries. The U.S. students were further behind in math, trailing counterparts in 23 countries. [The Washington Post, 12/5/07]