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Dear Editor:
Mr. Endelman's recent article repeats the claim that "Americans continue to earn fewer graduate degrees in computer science and mathematics, the need for such knowledge continues to grow. What is at stake is the intellectual future of the nation. American students fall further behind their international competition in virtually any test of math and science literacy. The blame for this cannot be placed at the doorstep of the H-1B and L-1 workers." On the contrary, American students who see their parents laid off from fields such as IT and engineering, only to be replaced by H1-B and L-1 workers, have absolutely no incentive to go into these areas in school. Add to that the wage stagnation (also contributed to by importing foreign workers) and our very smart American students see that they're better off investing their money and their futures in a business education and an MBA rather than more technical areas. Furthermore, as George Borjas has pointed out, the opportunity costs for an American student to go for a graduate degree are not offset by the salary he can earn. Foreign students, on the other hand, are a cheap source of labor for academia, and are not losing by going on to graduate school--they do so in the hope that a graduate degree will get them a green card (or at least an H1-B) to stay in the US. Finally, please bear in mind that "American" students these days include large numbers of children of immigrants, children who have often not even attended school in their home countries. Americans may not rank well in math and science, but the particular challenges of educating immigrant students make the task of educating everyone more difficult and expensive, particularly given the budget constraints schools are under.

Ali Alexander



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