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February 21, 2007

Cathy Schroeder
(850) 245-0413

Governor Crist Announces New Math and Science Initiative
~Florida State University awarded grant for Math and Science Center ~

TALLAHASSEE - Governor Charlie Crist today announced the formation of a bold initiative designed to increase math and science achievement in Florida schools. This new initiative creates the Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics and the establishment of the Office for Math and Science in the Department of Education. As part of Governor Crist’s announcement today, he honored Florida State University as the award recipient to oversee the new research center.

“The time is right for increasing our expectations for students in both math and science,” said Governor Crist. “Florida is no longer competing only with other states, but in a global arena. We must equip students with knowledge and skills so they can successfully compete with their peers – both nationally and internationally. We are pleased that Florida State University will lead us in this important endeavor.”

Joining him at today’s press conference were Congressman Allen Boyd, State Board of Education member Donna Callaway, Education Commissioner Jeanine Blomberg, Florida State University President T.K. Wetherell, Florida State University College of Education Associate Professor Laura Hassler Lang, Space Florida President Steve Kohler, K-12 Public Schools Chancellor Cheri Pierson Yecke and State University System Chancellor Mark Rosenberg.

“Florida State University offered a proposal with concrete objectives and demonstrated an understanding that, while academic research is important, the application of research findings in our schools is a key component of success,” said Commissioner Blomberg. “This center will become a national leader in research and outreach. Governor Crist’s assessment is correct – we have to act quickly to ensure that Florida’s students are to remain competitive globally.”

Funded by the Florida Legislature with a $2 million grant, the Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics will conduct research and use these research-based findings to support the Office for Math and Science in the Department of Education. The center will be led by Sir Harold Kroto, co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and an ardent advocate for K-12 science education worldwide. Florida State University will hire three to six nationally and internationally renowned math and science faculty members. The grant was awarded to Florida State University following a competitive bid process.

“We are honored to be selected for Florida’s new math and science education research center. Preparing the future workforce has been a strong and expanding focus of the university’s academic and research programs and its K-12 outreach initiatives,” said President Wetherell. “This research center team of renowned scientists, researchers and educators will have a common goal to improve teaching and learning in science, mathematics and technology and prepare students for higher education and rewarding careers in the 21st century.”

“The creation of such a center is a farsighted initiative for the state of Florida, especially at this time when science and technology are so important to socio-economic and sustainability issues. It is vital that at this time when not enough young people are opting for mathematics and the sciences, new approaches to education are vital,” said Kroto. “The Florida Center for Research in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics will bring together a cohort of young and imaginative people committed to new approaches in education, especially as the amazing new communication technologies such as the Internet offer totally new ways of making educational material available.”

The Office for Math and Science will oversee the development and implementation of new world-class math and science standards, develop and deliver professional development, and coordinate all state and federally funded programs in these subject areas. The Center will support the Department of Education’s efforts to increase the rigor and relevance of secondary programs to increase the number of students who graduate prepared for postsecondary education and the workforce.

"Much like the space race of the last century, we are now in an education race. Other nations, China and India in particular, want to supplant America as the global space leader. This new center will ensure a workforce proficient in math and science, allowing us to maintain our lead," said Space Florida President Steve Kohler.