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News : Education Jul 15, 2014 - 6:46:28 AM

U.S. House of Representatives Passes Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s STEM Education Bill

By Rep. Elizabeth Esty's office

Esty’s bill expands support for computer science and teacher professional development opportunities in STEM fields

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WASHINGTON, DC - On Monday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed Rep. Elizabeth Esty’s bill, the STEM Education Act, H.R. 5031. The bill passed unanimously. Esty introduced the bill with Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. Esty is a member of the committee.

“STEM education is critical to preparing our students for high-demand careers in engineering, manufacturing, and information technology,” Esty said. “I’ve heard time and time again from manufacturers and small business owners that it’s increasingly difficult to find workers with the right skill sets to fill jobs in demand.

“And I’ve heard directly from teachers, principals, and superintendents from across central and northwest Connecticut that we need more support for K-12 teachers, particularly in the STEM fields. Our bipartisan STEM Education Act expands teacher professional development programs in the STEM fields, increases support for computer science education, and creates opportunities for STEM learning outside of the classroom. I’m very proud our commonsense bill passed today.”

“A healthy and viable STEM workforce, literate in all STEM subjects including computer science, is critical to American industries,” Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), Chairman of the U.S. House Science, Space, and Technology Committee. “We must work to ensure that students continue to go into these fields so that their ideas can lead to a more innovative and prosperous America.”

“Collectively, schools, families and out-of-school learning resources create an eco-system that engages kids in STEM and helps them prepare for the modern workforce,” said Matt Fleury, President and CEO of the Connecticut Science Center. “The STEM Education Act represents a crucial step forward for our students and teachers, and for institutions like the Connecticut Science Center. The support the bill provides will empower us to continue—and expand—our work to advance STEM education throughout our state.”

Specifically, the STEM Education Act would ensure that federal grants and programs related to STEM education include computer science education and would continue existing grants supporting STEM education in museums, science centers, and other programs outside of the classroom. Esty’s bill would also expand an existing National Science Foundation teacher professional development grant, the Robert Noyce Master Teaching Fellowship program. Currently, only a teacher already holding a master’s degree in a STEM field is eligible to apply. Esty’s bill would open the program to reflect the realities and needs of our schools, particularly for teachers in high-need areas.

The STEM Education Act is based off Esty’s STEM Jobs Act, H.R. 3243, which she introduced last October after talking with manufacturers and teachers across her district who emphasized the need for additional support for teacher professional development in STEM.

According to a recent study released by the Brookings Institute, workers with STEM skills play an important role in driving innovation and economic growth in our country, and jobs in the STEM fields are in high demand. However, workers with STEM skills are in short supply in Connecticut and across the country. STEM education in elementary, middle, and high schools is a critical part of closing this skills gap and making sure American workers can compete for the jobs of the 21st century.

The STEM Education Act now awaits passage in the Senate.

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