This week on “The Learning Curve,” host Gerard Robinson talks with Nancy Poon Lue, incoming Senior Director at the Valhalla Foundation, where she will be leading their K-12 math funding initiatives. Nancy shares her recent work with the EF+Math Program, some of the challenges America has faced in ensuring students have a strong grounding in math and science, and the kinds of results she aims to achieve for kids in all ZIP codes. They discuss the realities of K-12 education before COVID-19, with declining NAEP scores and persistent achievement gaps, and what can be done to address COVID-19-related learning loss, especially in STEM. Nancy offers thoughts on America’s competitiveness with high-performing countries in the STEM fields that drive the global economy. Lastly, they delve into teacher preparation in STEM fields, and how education schools and state departments of education can help address the country’s ongoing STEM deficits.

Story of the Week: Schools in all but two states — New Hampshire and New Mexico — are experiencing a shortage of special education teachers to meet demand as students return to in-person learning for the 2021-2022 school year.