Personal View: Boost STEM education to reduce racial health disparities – Crain’s Cleveland Business

May we all soon live in precedented times. The phrase “unprecedented times” was one of the most popular of 2020 and, at this time next year, some version of our previous lives will resume. Let’s think now, though, about how to ensure it’s a more equitable version, in terms of health care and education.

Racialized health disparities are due in part to educational disparities, and I bet Zoom and its ilk can play a constructive role here. Since last March, I’ve witnessed first-hand the limits of online education. My wife is a professor, and my daughter is in high school. Some things work. (Most don’t.) But some things may work well enough to aid the college preparedness in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) of high schoolers from underrepresented groups. The long-standing issue of equity and higher education has direct implications for medicine, health care and wealth.

At colleges and universities across the country, introductory courses in biology, chemistry and mathematics are not designed to be weed-out courses — but that’s the effect, according to researchers in Science Advances.

“The take-home message here is that ‘business as usual’ is disenfranchising groups of students who belong and can thrive in STEM because of a misguided culture in which rigor is correlated with how many people are weeded out,” noted Melanie M. Cooper, a professor of science education at Michigan State University (MSU), in Source…