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Editorial 12/10/2010
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Best and Brightest
presented by Peter Kohler

It’s news that makes you want to celebrate Long Island’s schools and students.

This week, three high school seniors won national Siemens awards for their cancer research. Nevin Daniel of Ward Melville High School won a $50,000 scholarship for developing ways to target drugs at cancer cells.

Nikhil Mehandru of Roslyn High and Sonya Prasad of the Wheatley School shared another top award, their project requiring hundreds of hours of lab research, tutored by Stony Brook professors.

Despite these achievements, there’s disquieting news about the quality of math and science teaching in our public schools, nationally and internationally.

So says Jim Simons, a former Stony Brook math professor and retired hedge-fund whiz whose $60 million gift established Stony Brook’s new geometry and physics center.

Simons also founded Math America, providing funds to entice top mathematicians to become public school teachers. Studies show that some of our best students are falling behind, because teachers in math and science don’t know their subjects.

So congratulations to these Long Island students, their schools and their mentors for what they’ve achieved, and to Simons for reminding us that even our best and brightest need teachers who know their stuff.

Carl Todd
Glen Cove, NY
There was a recent proposal to require all newly acquired PhDs in math and sciences to spend one year teaching their subjects to high school students. The theory being that these people are the most interested, qualified and enthusiastic about their subject and would pass that to their students. It should be a degree requirement, and their costs paid by the schools they are teaching in. If you really like a subject, applying it is play, not work.
Learn more about the Siemens Competition
Advancing Research in Basic Science and Mathematics
Home of The Simons Center for Geometry and Physics