Gov. Perry Announces $71 Million Initiative to Boost Math, Science Education
Program Will Create Specialized Academies in 35 Schools Across State
Gov. Rick Perry today announced a $71 million education initiative that will create specialized academies at 35 schools across the state to help thousands of Texas students develop a passion for math and science and a strong foundation for success in college and the technology-based workplace of tomorrow.
"Ensuring college readiness and workforce readiness must be one of the primary aims of education," Perry said. "And with the undeniable march towards a global, technology based economy, that means our secondary schools must place a greater premium on science and math education."
Known as the Texas Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math Initiative (T-STEM), the program is being launched by the Texas High School Project (THSP), one of the largest public-private partnerships for education in the country.
Despite progress Texas students have made, Perry said, too many Texas students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, still leave high school without the math and science skills needed for success in college and the workplace.
"This initiative will help us close the science and math gap that exists in our schools today before it becomes a salary gap for tomorrow's workers, and an opportunity gap for the entire state," Perry said.
One of the primary aims of the T-STEM Initiative is to align high school coursework with post-secondary education and economic development activities so that students will receive not only a high-quality education but also be presented with real career opportunities when they graduate from college.
T-STEM will be funded with $20 million in grants each from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Susan & Michael Dell Foundation, $20 million in state funds from the Texas Education Agency (TEA), $10 million from TEA in federal funds, and $1 million from National Instruments.
"When this Initiative is fully implemented, thousands of Texas students will benefit from better trained teachers, a more rigorous and engaging technology curriculum, and an education system that prepares them for high-end achievement in college and success in the workplace," Perry said. "And just as importantly, it will help widen the circle of success to include more disadvantaged students who are too often left in the shadows of opportunity."
Over the next five years T-STEM funds will be used to:
* Establish 35 T-STEM Academies across the state that will eventually enroll 25,000 students each year, with a special focus on students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. The academies will engage students in real-world learning activities designed to help spark students' imaginations and inspire more of them to pursue a career in science-based fields.
* Create up to 6 T-STEM Centers to provide high school educators with the professional development and technical assistance needed to spur higher classroom achievement.
* Establish a statewide best-practices network so that successful models can be replicated across Texas.
The 35 TSTEM Academies are expected to include a mixture of charter schools, traditional public schools and schools operated in conjunction with an institution of higher education. All academies will start the program in sixth grade and focus on the most challenged school districts and the most disadvantaged students across Texas.
Perry announced the creation of the $130 million Texas High School Project in 2003, a joint venture of the state and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation and the Communities Foundation of Texas.
THSP supports new and re-designed high schools, educator training and development, and specific programs designed to help students prepare for college through learning environments where students build relationships with educators, are challenged with rigorous lessons, and excited by subjects made relevant to their lives.