By Representative Candice Miller
When it comes to math and science the United States needs to do its homework. Currently, less than one-third of eighth graders in the U.S. are proficient in science and mathematics and only nine states allow computer science courses to count towards graduation requirements.
These statistics are a stark reminder that while the U.S. is a global superpower in every definition, our country's leaders and educators can't sit on the sidelines when it comes to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related fields.
That is why the House will vote today on a bipartisan resolution from the Committee on House Administration to create the Congressional Academic Competition, with a specific focus on STEM fields.
The competition will be modeled after the Congressional Art Competition, a similar competition that has helped provide a platform for aspiring artists to showcase their talents. Members of Congress will be given the opportunity to host an annual STEM competition for students in their congressional district and the winning entries will be recognized by the House.
The initial focus will be on software applications. Likely submissions will include Smartphone applications, management software programs, or tools to gather and analyze information from large groups using social media technologies.
While there is no simple fix to reversing the trend away from math and science, this competition is one more tool we can use to inspire students to explore STEM fields and also be recognized for their work. The bipartisan support for the Academic Competition Resolution in the House is an acknowledgment of the dire need to improve this nation's education and innovation in the STEM fields, which have become vital in today's global economy
As leaders, educators and parents, we must encourage our schools to bring STEM education up to par with other countries or jeopardize losing well-paying jobs and revenue to overseas competitors.
Miller is chairwoman of the House Committee on Administration.