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114th Congress Must Address STEM Education

February 17, 2015

Senator Lamar Alexander's (R-TN) recent discussion draft of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was a promising indication of his commitment to advancing meaningful legislation as the new Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee in the 114th Congress.

Unfortunately, while Sen. Alexander's draft is an important step in the right direction, by eliminating the Math and Science Partnership (MSP), it did not go far enough to protect crucial aspects of the law. Instead of eliminating the law's math and science portions, many advocates of STEM education, such as the Museum of Science, Boston's National Center for Technological Literacy® (NCTL®), advocate expanding the MSP to include language and programs specifically related to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

"We strongly recommend that the MSP program include STEM-specific language and programs," said Museum of Science president and director Ioannis (Yannis) Miaoulis. "We can no longer afford to exclude STEM in policy discussions and need to do even more to ensure that we have the resources to teach STEM subjects like engineering and computer science in order to produce a more educated work-force."

According to Miaoulis, H.R. 823, a new version of the Educating Tomorrow's Engineers Act (ETEA), just introduced by Representatives Paul Tonko (D-NY), David B. McKinley (R-WV), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (D-MA) and Rodney Davis (R-IL), should be included in the reauthorization of ESEA.

"We hope that H.R. 823 will become law," said Miaoulis. "We believe this is an exciting and necessary step forward in STEM education. The NCTL is honored to have worked with Rep. Tonko as he crafted this bill, and we look forward to continued progress in K-12 STEM education."

According to the White House's Office of Science and Technology, STEM occupations are expected to grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM occupations from 2008-2018. The ETEA bill advances engineering practices and computational thinking in K-12 classrooms. Exposing young children to these disciplines and skill sets is vital to our nation's workforce and competitiveness. The ETEA is the most clear, effective response to the lack of STEM-specific programs and policies, and is key to changing how we teach STEM subjects in our schools. Please join the National Center for Technological Literacy in supporting this critical legislation by emailing Patti Curtis at curtisp@mos.org.

The Museum of Science, Boston

  1 Science Park, Boston, MA 02114  phone: 617-723-2500   information@mos.org