Today U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich, along with Reps. Ben Ray Luján, Michelle Lujan Grisham, and Steve Pearce announced they have introduced a bill to strengthen the nation's Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) education and training programs in New Mexico and the U.S.
The STEM Support for Teachers in Education and Mentoring (STEM²) Act includes a package of initiatives designed to improve student interest and performance in STEM skills. It would help teachers and schools better engage students in STEM fields by providing additional STEM professional development resources and facilitating collaboration among the business and education communities in order to better identify STEM skills needed by the workforce.
"New Mexico has a rich history involving STEM fields and this bill will encourage a new generation of students to develop the skills necessary to succeed in these areas," Udall said. "As education legislation moves forward in the Senate, I will be making the case that STEM subjects should be given priority attention so our students can have the tools they need to compete an increasingly global economy."
"This legislation opens up pathways for collaboration between businesses and teachers to ensure that students are getting the skills they need to be successful in tomorrow's job market," Heinrich said. "STEM education plays a critical role in America's ability to meet the demands of the 21st Century, like developing new energy technology, advancing national defense strategies, and raising health care quality through computerized advancements."
"In order for our children and young adults to compete in the global economy they must have the training and skills necessary to compete in the STEM fields," Luján said. "The STEM2 Act recognizes that high-quality teachers and a rigorous curriculum that focus on the needs of employers hiring for the jobs of tomorrow are critical for our students to get ahead. With too many young students struggling to perform basic math skills, we have no time to waste in improving the quality of education and ensuring that our children have a strong foundation in math and science."
"Investments in STEM education are investments in America's future," Lujan Grisham said. "For our state and our nation to innovate and compete in today's global economy, it's vital that we educate our students in the high-demand fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. This legislation will give schools, teachers, businesses and communities the recourses necessary to prepare New Mexico's students for the jobs of the future."
"Education is the most important investment we can make," Pearce said. "By providing key resources to prepare our students in science, technology, engineering, and math, this legislation will help Americans compete for jobs in a global market, creating a stronger, brighter future for our students and our nation. I'm proud to join my colleagues from New Mexico to improve the education and opportunities available to our next generation of leaders and innovators."
According to the National Math and Science Initiative, in 2011, only 45 percent of U.S. high school graduates were ready for college-level math, and only 30 percent ready for college-level science. The initiative also found the U.S. could be short as many as three million high-skilled workers by 2018.
The STEM² Act would:
- Develop effective state STEM networks among schools, teachers, administrators, institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations and businesses to increase communication and collaboration in these fields;
- Establish matching grant training programs for summer institutes and other professional development enrichment programs for teachers to improve STEM education in elementary, middle and high school
- Develop a national panel to evaluate and identify rigorous K-12 STEM curricula models, including computer and/or web-based simulation education programs and kinesthetic learning.
The STEM² Act is supported by Innovate-Educate N.M., the New Mexico Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement, Inc. (NM MESA), the New Mexico STEM Network, NM First and the Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science.