Lawmaker Calls for STEM Overhaul

Calling the state of STEM in the United States “woefully ill-equipped,” Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced late last month the Elevating Science Technology Engineering Mathematics Act (e-STEM), to tackle the deteriorating national scores in science and math and to increase standards.  Being a former science teacher, Honda pointed to the decreasing interest amongst students and teachers in the realm of STEM.  The U.S. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) demonstrated that from 2004 to 2008, 41 percent of seventeen year olds “failed to exhibit a basic understanding of medium-difficulty math procedures.”

Honda pointed to the lack of federal leadership and vision, noting that efforts “are neither coordinated, nor coherent, nor cooperative.”  The proposed bill will create an Office of STEM within the Department of Education that will oversee federal efforts to implement standards and coordination between federal and state governments.  The bill, besides establishing a federal-level office, will create a Consortium of STEM education to develop common standards.  The last part of the bill will create the National STEM Education Research Repository which will become a clearinghouse for educators across the country to share research.

In a Wilson Center event earlier this summer, Honda participated in an Einstein Fellowship Summit addressing the future of education.  He remarked that more needs to be done and that an emphasis on rooting education into the fabric of society is crucial.  He argued that “When government gets involved in school policy and we start putting up barriers about thinking and science, you all better get mad,” stating the point that everyone has to do a better job to ensure quality education for their children.

Honda’s legislation is following the administrations attempt for education reform and comes at a time when the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) is up for re-authorization.   President Obama made a pledge last month in an interview with the Today show to create 10,000 new STEM educators over the next two years.

“For our nation to remain a leader in scientific advancement and technological innovation,”  Honda wrote in an editorial shortly after announcing the proposed bill “we must strengthen America’s schools and provide them with resources and curriculum they need to succeed.”  With the lame duck session coming after the November 2nd mid-terms, the future of the bill hangs in the balance, as will the questions over funding for the additional training and specialization of the teacher corps.

Posted by: Michael Darden

Sources: The Hill, Today Show, govtrack.us

Photo credit:  David Hawxhusrt, Wilson Center

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2 Responses to Lawmaker Calls for STEM Overhaul

  1. Pingback: STEM School? « America and the Global Economy

  2. Pingback: STEM Education in Popular Culture « America and the Global Economy

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