GlaxoSmithKline P.L.C. chief executive officer J.P. Garnier is known for unusual outspokenness as a global CEO. Now, he appears to be putting money where his mouth is.
Last week, Garnier, who lives part of the time in Philadelphia, where the London-based drug giant has a U.S. headquarters, let loose during a Wharton health-care conference on the deficiencies of the U.S. education system.
"In this country, you can take a college class in video games. It's appalling," Garnier told a roomful of aspiring corporate executives.
The French-born executive noted that Chinese and Indian colleges are cranking out science graduates in "waves," and half-jokingly urged the audience to switch from financial training to science. "If you're in the sciences, you can always get into private equity later," he said, drawing laughter from the audience.
Yesterday, GlaxoSmithKline announced it will donate $1 million to support science teachers' pursuing additional training and credentials under the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards.
The GlaxoSmithKline scholarship will expand a program already assisting teachers in Pennsylvania and North Carolina. The goal is to improve the quality of science education. Only about one out of 10 teachers who hold National Board Certification currently teaches math or science, the company said.
In a company statement, U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings was quoted as saying: "If we're going to reach our goal of having all children learning at grade level, we must arm teachers with the best practices to get the job done through programs like these. Nothing helps a child learn as much as a great teacher, and we must ensure our teachers have the tools to lead the way."
GlaxoSmithKline said the donation was part of its broad commitment to "social investment that focuses on health care and education."
David Pulman, GlaxoSmithKline's president of global manufacturing and supply, was quoted as saying: "A critical mass of science teachers across the country will now have access to this powerful program, which will ultimately result in greater student achievement gains."
Joseph A. Aguerrebere, president of the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, expressed gratitude to GlaxoSmithKline. He said it would enable about 50 more teachers to become certified.
Its grant exemplifies "the belief that the single most important action this country can take for our children is to improve our schools by strengthening teaching," Aguerrebere said.
According to the group, there are 55,306 certified teachers, triple the number five years ago. The group's certification process involves performance-based assessments and training that takes one to three years to complete. It includes an analysis of teachers' classroom performance, the statement said.