Panel: STEM education crisis stems from unsupported teachers

  • Creating a fellowship program for candidates to go into STEM fields and become STEM teachers.
  • Encouraging private-public partnerships that span years, not a single year. (Policy makers must make private companies see the long-term investment benefits of this, because investment in K-12 STEM education would not produce results until roughly 20 years later.)
  • Providing more support for community colleges and two-year degree programs, ultimately helping to cut down student debt for entering STEM careers.
  • Encouraging more universities and high schools to take advantage of YouTube videos and the internet to teach STEM courses and provide STEM professional development. An example is Connections Academy.
  • Pushing STEM development in elementary grade levels. (“You don’t have to have an engineering course in middle school,” said Vest, “but you can make sure excitement is peaked and base-level math and science is mastered, with the word ‘engineering’ mentioned now and again.”)
  • Blank said the Obama administration already is trying to make some of these suggestions happen.

    For example, in the president’s FY12 budget, $206 million would go to STEM training programs. The “Educate to Innovate” campaign, which launched in 2009, aims to foster private-public partnerships. About $205 million in public and private dollars has gone toward training thousands of math teachers as a result of this program.

    Finally, the Race to the Top program has provided grants based on the prevalence of STEM education programs and an emphasis on STEM curriculum in states.

    “The FY12 budget also has money going to STEM teacher in low-income areas,” said Blank. “Let’s hope this budget gets passed.”

    Meris Stansbury

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