Just last week President Obama announced a proposal to invest $1 Billion to “create a national Science, Math, Technology, and Engineering (STEM) Master Teacher Corps.” That sounds like a whole lot of STEM education!
Is money the entire solution to our STEM education shortfall? Probably not the entire solution, but a lack of funding certainly does have a large impact in our space. In particular, we are seeing a hot sector of our economy competing directly with a very critical need. A large number of potential teaching candidates are instead opting to head into the private sector. Money is a factor here, but so too is attitude.
At Why Science we are very encouraged by the tremendous movement we have seen with regard to a sense of the urgency specific to STEM education, which in turn has led to great innovations in our classroom. In contrast, in addition to a potentially very lucrative payout in the private sector, many candidates entering the job marketing with a STEM background are also finding that the work they are able to contribute to is extremely exciting. This really is a great time for technology – and so now our schools are competing both in terms of money and also in terms of fulfillment.
And while we certainly applaud President Obama and his education team for making such a bold step in terms of the potential cash incentives that this program will provide promising STEM educators, in reading the preliminary announcement what really encouraged us was the direct mention that this program will also provide the selected teachers with critical resources AND all those selected for the STEM Master Teacher Corps (10,000) will also be expected to champion STEM causes within their communities.
While the resources are critical, the concept of encouraging the participants to be STEM ambassadors feels golden to us!
In the space of STEM, we have seen in President Obama a leader that is very committed to ensuring that our students remain competitive and able to compete in the world of tomorrow, and from his perch in the oval office President Obama has repeatedly used the aura of the office to help communicate this message:
As he (President Obama) has said repeatedly, efforts to improve STEM education are “going to make more of a difference in determining how well we do as a country than just about anything else that we do here.”
And while our country has seen Presidents with a wide array of views, our hope is that the very public face that our current administration has given to the importance of STEM education evolves into something that is part of the ongoing legacy of the presidency of the United States, a tradition that will be passed down from administration to administration.
In terms of the most recent announcement, it appears that moving from an announcement into an actual policy is something that we’ll have to wait until 2013 for, but our hope is that this is one piece of legislation, or one similar, makes its way into our classroom soon.