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Obama: CEOs joining to push math, science education

CEOs are launching a new nonprofit initiative, Change the Equation, which will expand privately funded projects to 100 communities in need of better math and science education. Obama is making this announcement Thursday.

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President Obama shakes hands with students after delivering remarks at his second annual back-to-school speech, Sept. 14, at Julia R. Masterman School in Philadelphia.

Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

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The CEOs of more than 100 companies are launching a new nonprofit initiative, Change the Equation, to turn today’s diverse generation of students into tomorrow’s scientists, engineers, and math-literate citizens, President Obama is announcing Thursday.

The group will start by expanding successful, privately funded education projects in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) to 100 communities where students are most in need. It will also develop a scorecard to help states see how they can improve STEM curriculum and teacher development.

"Our success as a nation depends on strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of discovery and innovation," Mr. Obama says in remarks prepared for the announcement in the afternoon.

IN PICTURES: Back to school

Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, is one of the founders of Change the Equation. “We all know that we need to produce the next generation of rocket scientists and environmental engineers,” she says in a phone interview. “Even to get a basic living-wage job, the students of today are going to need a good education in math and science.”

One goal is to give STEM a much-needed image upgrade. “It’s socially acceptable in our culture to say ‘I can’t do math,’ ” says Linda Rosen, a mathematician and CEO of Change the Equation. “The corporate world can show the pervasiveness of STEM in everyday life.”

Matt Tosiello, a third-grade teacher at the Randolph school in Arlington, Va., has seen the power of giving kids a broader array of role models who use math and science in their work.

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