Addressing Challenges of 21st Century
By Jennifer Ginn, CSG Education Policy Analyst
Just days before Thanksgiving, President Obama unveiled a national STEM initiative designed to get more students interested in the fields that seem destined to be the backbone of any thriving economy both today and in the future––science, technology, engineering and math.
“Reaffirming and strengthening America’s role as the world’s engine of scientific discovery and technological innovation is essential to meeting the challenges of this century,” Obama said in the announcement. “That’s why I am committed to making the improvement of STEM education over the next decade a national priority.”
The Council of State Governments is also taking a lead in educating state policymakers about STEM education, its importance to any state’s economic future and what states are doing about it with a webinar, “STEM Education: Creating a Skilled Workforce,” scheduled for 2-3 p.m. EST Dec. 9.
Speakers will include New Mexico Rep. Rick Miera; Jami Grindatto, director of Corporate Affairs for the Intel Corp.; and Brad Mitchell, Battelle/Ohio State University Director of STEM Strategy and Partnerships. Registration for the webinar is now open.
President Obama’s campaign, called “Educate to Innovate,” has three priorities, according to the White House press office:
Increasing STEM literacy so all students can think critically in science, technology, engineering and math;
Improving the quality of math and science teaching so American students are no longer outperformed by students in other nations; and
Expanding STEM education and career opportunities for underrepresented groups, including women and minorities.
Prominent scientists and industry leaders joined forces with the White House to get the campaign off and running. Several scientists and business leaders––such as Sally Ride, the first female astronaut; Xerox CEO Ursula Burns and Glenn Britt, CEO of Time Warner Cable ––have pledged to increase the size and scope of their private and philanthropic support for STEM education. The majority of Sesame Street’s new episodes this year will focus on STEM subjects. And the White House will host an annual science fair to showcase winners of national competitions.
“America needs a world-class STEM work force to address the grand challenges of the 21st century, such as developing clean sources of energy that reduce our dependence on foreign oil and discovering cures for cancer,” said John Holdren, the president’s science adviser and director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. “It is extremely gratifying to see this first and very robust set of responses to the president’s call to action.”