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276 Nobel Prizes in Science: U.S. Science Education the World’s Best

Susan Notes: Operating the Center for the Study of Jobs and Education in Wisconsin and United States, Dennis W. Redovich offers research that counts--quite literally. With his relentless gathering of information on job availability and requirements, he provides an invaluable resource for educators to counter the bogus claims of the corporate-politicos claiming we need to educate our youth for the Global Economy.

Dennis has compiled a lot of his information in The Big Con in Education: Why must "all" high school graduates be prepared for college?

Here is his latest research on Nobel Prize winners. Since I remain technologically challenged and cannot post graphs and charts so they are readable, you need to go to the Center's website to view the charts.

You can use Dennis' statistics to write an op ed for your local paper.

By Dennis W. Redovich

The United States leads the world in technology, scientific research and the quality of its scientists because U.S. science education is the world's best. From 1950 to 2006 Americans have won 206 or 58% of the 357 Nobel Prizes awarded in Medicine, Physics and Chemistry. In October 2006, Americans were awarded all five of the Nobel Prizes for science achievement. The American winners are in Medicine: Andrew Z. Fire Stanford University and Greg C. Mello, U. of Massachusetts Medical School. Physics: John C. Mather NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and George C. Smoot University of California and Chemistry: Roger D. Kornberg Stanford University. This is the second time Americans have made a complete sweep of Nobel science prizes, the first was in 1983.

The United States is the uncontested leader of the world in scientific research in respect to published accomplishments, Nobel Prizes, volume of research and expenditures on scientific research. The United States is the leader of the world in technology and the unchallenged leader of the world in the global economy.

The United States has received a majority of Nobel Prizes in Science each decade from 1950 to 1999. From 2000 to 2006 U.S. scientists earned 35 (63%) of the 55 Nobel Prizes awarded in Science. (See Appendix Table IV Total Nobel Prize Winners by Country by Decade 2006-1950 in Rank Order and Table V Total Nobel Prize Science Winners by Country by Decade 1949-1901 (Pages 4-5)

Table I Totals for All Countries in the World Winning Nobel Prizes in Science 1950 to 2006 (see charts

Sources for Tables I thru V in this report
Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Winners 2005-1901
Nobel Prize in Physics Winners 2005-1901
Nobel Prize in Chemistry Winners 2005-1901

The percentage of Americans receiving Nobel prizes in Science (chemistry, physics, physiology or medicine) increased from 18%, 26 prizes 1901 to 1949, to 58%, 206 prizes from 1950 to 2006. The Europeans completely dominated the winning of Nobel prizes for the first 30 years (Germans and British were the biggest winners). Americans received only 6 prizes in the first 30 years (Europeans earned 86) and Americans received their first prizes in Physics 1907, Chemistry 1914 and Physiology or Medicine 1930. Since 1950 Americans have dominated the winning of Nobel prizes in Physics and Physiology or Medicine and have been about equal in Chemistry. However, since 1980 Americans have won 29 Chemistry prizes while all of Europe has won 21.

Table II Total Countries in the World Winning Nobel Prizes in Science 1901-1949 (see chart)

Critics of American science education have implied that foreign-born scientists are the primary reason for the American dominance in science since World War II. That is not the case. In the tabulations by country in this study the country designated for the scientist is the country where the scientific work was done. For example, Albert Einstein received a 1921 Nobel Prize for work he did in Germany and was counted as a German recipient and not as a U.S. citizen. Dramatic increases of American recipients of Nobel prizes have occurred since 1970 with a few foreign-trained scientists earning prizes. On the other hand, many foreign born scientists come to the U.S to receive their advanced science education and then remain in the U.S. because the world knows that the U.S. is the best in science.

Table III Nobel Prizes in Science 1901-2006
1901 to 1949 and 1950 to 2006 Nobel Prizes for sciences were awarded as follows (see chart):

The visible quality accomplishments of American scientists and engineers are recognized throughout the world. At a European conference for institutional research held in Trier Germany in 1989 a German presenter pointed out that Americans had received 41 Nobel Prizes for chemistry and physics from 1979 to 1989 while all of Europe earned 20. The speaker used this data as part of his criticism of European science education as compared to the United States. When I asked him how many Nobel Prizes the Japanese had received in the last ten years he said two. (Japan has won only 6 Nobel Prizes in Science 1901-2006, 2 in 2002) Japanese universities are not highly regarded in the world for their academics, but Europeans and Americans have feared the economic strength of Japan until the later 1990s when their economic strength severely declined. (Unbelievably, in the 1980s and early 1990s American economists were foolishly saying that the superiority of the Japanese economy was because their K-12 education systems were superior to the United States.)

It is incomprehensible how American K-12 public school critics, including politicians and conservative think tanks, are allowed to get away with the bashing of all American K-12 schools based on bogus analysis of useless international tests without serious challenge by an academically disadvantaged media. Critics of American public schools use K-12 education as the scapegoat for all of the social and economic problems of the United States

The media and experts the media chooses to quote frequently declare the following:

1. American elementary and secondary education is below the academic level of education in other countries, particularly in science and mathematics.

2. The quality of American colleges and universities is generally considered to be exalted in the world of postsecondary education.

How could both of these statements be correct? The first statement is absolute nonsense and the second is absolutely true. American colleges and universities attract students from all over the world, particularly in science and engineering because it is believed that they are the best in the world. American university students who primarily come from American high schools that produce large numbers of bright, innovative, competitive, and hard working graduates create the high quality of American colleges and universities. Universities are as good as their students. Another reason for the superiority of American postsecondary education is the exemplary democratic American culture, which is the most competitive and utilitarian in the world.

American K-12 public education systems get none of the credit for the United States leadership in science, technology and the global economy for the last 60 years. There is absolutely no crisis in American K-12 science education or shortage of outstanding scientists. About 5% of jobs in the United States projected to 2012 might require higher math and or science course work. (See http://www.jobseducationwis.org )

267A Math & Science Employment in the United States 2004-2014, Top 30 Job Titles in Numbers of Workers Employed 2004 and Projected to 2014

The quality of American education continues to improve as the media berates it based on irrelevant and invalid standardized testing. Insane is too mild a term for the standardized testing mania that is sweeping the United States. Some praise for American students at all educational levels might motivate our exemplary American schools to improve even more. There is no doubt; American schools produce the finest scientists in the world. And the American educational systems, most notably including American K-12 education, continue to upgrade the quality of their science graduates each year.
The writer's views are based on 51 years of active experience in American education as an administrator, educational researcher and a chemist who taught chemistry at the secondary and university level in the 1950's and 60's.

Dennis W. Redovich, redovich@execpc.com 414-421-1120

Educational Consultant and Public Speaker
Originally written October 1992 and revised each year October 1993 to 2006
Center for the Study of Jobs & Education in Wisconsin And United States www.jobseducationwis.org
6438 Sycamore St. Greendale WI 53129


Table IV Total Nobel Prize Winners by Country by Decade 2006-1950 in Rank Order
Country of Citizenship (see Chart).

— Dennis W. Redovich
Center for the Study of Jobs and Education in Wisconsin and United States



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