Obama and Honda Introduce STEM Act to Improve Science and Technology Education in Our Nation's Schools
Bill will strengthen federal agency education programs in the STEM fields
Rep. Mike Honda and Sen. Barack Obama today introduced a bipartisan bill in their respective chambers that will make America's students and future labor force more competitive in science-related fields. The bill was introduced at a time when other countries are gaining ground on America in science and technology fields.
Obama (D-IL) and Honda (D-CA) said this bill will help develop a coordinated strategy in the teaching of science, technology, engineering and math education, the fields collectively known as STEM. The "Enhancing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Education Act of 2008" (H.R. 6104) will create mechanisms for federal agencies and the states to coordinate STEM education strategies.
"We need to focus our efforts in teaching the scientists and engineers of tomorrow," said Honda, a former science teacher and educator of more than 30 years. "Federal agencies unfortunately are not communicating among themselves. Current federal efforts in STEM education are neither coordinated, nor coherent, nor cooperative. This bill will create the mechanisms and venue for cooperative relationships to develop."
"We must ensure our nation remains a global leader in scientific advancement and technological innovation, and that begins with strengthening America's schools," said Obama. "Our students deserve the education and skills they need to compete in today's global economy and to understand the increasingly complex issues that face our democracy, and we must do everything we can to provide them with the resources and curriculum they need to succeed. This critical legislation will help students develop critical thinking and effective problem solving skills in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by coordinating federal STEM education efforts, consolidating federal education initiatives, and supporting states in collaboratively organizing their efforts. I am proud to introduce this legislation with Congressman Honda, and look forward to moving it forward in Congress."
Among the bill's original co-sponsors are Rep. George Miller, chairman of the House Committee on Labor and Education; Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI); and Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ).
In 2006, the federal government sponsored 105 STEM education programs through 15 different federal agencies at a cost of $3.12 billion. Yet the following year, American students did poorly in a test offered world-wide that measures student proficiency in understanding and applying science. Microsoft's Bill Gates summarized the concerns when he said: "When I compare our high schools with what I see when I'm traveling abroad, I'm terrified for our workforce of tomorrow."
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