A new report by the Southern Growth Policy Board says:

Improvements in education and development of a culture of innovation and learning are keys to the South's economic future, according to a report released here Sunday by a North Carolina-based think tank.

The Southern Growth Policy Board said its findings were based on the opinions of 4,000 Southerners, gleaned from surveys and from opinions voiced at retreats and community forums around the region. It was released in downtown New Orleans by Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco, the chairwoman of the organization's board of directors.

The report bemoans the United State's declining role in research and development of new technology worldwide and said the South's overall spending on industrial research and development has stagnated

Among the report's recommendations are that Southern states encourage public universities to form partnerships with industry, government, federal laboratories and other universities to increase research. Southern states should also do more to encourage industries to move their research and development arms to the region, the report said, noting that many of the states already have recruitment incentives including lower taxes and labor costs than other regions.

According to the article, the report also recommends:

  • Raising awareness of the importance math and science careers and education
  • Revamping teacher training to emphasize collaboration between education and math and science departments
  • Offering college scholarships, bonus pay or other incentives to attract and retain math and science teachers

Meanwhile in the State of Georgia, 30,000 eighth graders are in danger of being left behind after failing new, tougher statewide math tests:

Georgia students struggled with tougher new statewide tests, with thousands of eighth graders headed to summer school to see if they can boost their scores enough to advance to high school, according to data released by the state Department of Education on Monday.

State Schools Superintendent Kathy Cox called some of the results "hard to take."

But she said the lackluster results were inevitable as the state implements a new curriculum and more challenging tests.

"This year is a turning point for us," Cox said. "We have a lot of work to do."

Cox said one clear signal sent by the tests is that educators need to place a more intense focus on the middle grades, especially in math and science.

[..]

"This is what happens when you cut schools by more than a billion dollars and you do nothing about overcrowded classes: our children suffer and test scores go down," Taylor spokesman Rick Dent said.

So what is the Georgia Legislature doing about it? Passing bold new education initiatives like this:

Fresh from a bruising federal court fight over the teaching of evolution, Georgia marched back into the culture wars last week when Gov. Sonny Perdue signed a bill allowing Bible classes in public high schools. An estimated 8 percent of the nation's schools offer some form of Bible study. But the Georgia law is the first to set statewide guidelines and earmark public dollars for a Bible course.

So forget all that math and science stuff. 20 years from now when you are driving over a bridge in Georgia designed by the next generation of civil engineers, just have faith in his or her faith-based structural load bearing and stress calculations in hopes that you will safely reach your job as call-center customer representative for the India National Nanohydrogen Automobile Company.