Committee on Science and Technology
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Press Releases :: March 4, 2010

Partnerships Between Key Stakeholders Will Improve K-12 STEM Education, Committee Hears


(Washington, DC) – Today, the Committee on Science and Technology held
a hearing to examine innovative efforts to improve K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. Committee Members and witnesses stand united on the importance of partnerships in strengthening STEM education and in better preparing students to enter the STEM workforce. Improving STEM education is a top priority for the Committee. This is one in a series of hearings the Committee has held on the topic of STEM education in preparation for the reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act.
 
“Our Committee has repeatedly heard that we need more STEM educated graduates and teachers if we want to continue to be leaders in the global economy and maintain a high standard of living for all Americans,” stated Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “The America COMPETES Act which sought to ensure not only that our nation will produce the world’s leading scientists and engineers but also that all students will have a strong grounding in math and science. As many of you know, this bipartisan landmark legislation was signed into law in 2007.”
 
“COMPETES focused on improving teacher training, but there is still more work to do.  This year our Committee is reauthorizing the America COMPETES Act.  This reauthorization will give us the opportunity to strengthen existing programs and focus on ways to make more efficient and effective use of the limited resources we have to support real reform in STEM education,” added Gordon.
 
“The Congressional Innovation Agenda championed by this Committee over the past two years, including the passage of the America COMPETES Act, has reinvigorated the essential role of math and science education in our country,” stated Dr. Jim Simons, Founder and Chairman of Math for America.
 
Witnesses stressed the need for systemic, long-term change in K-12 STEM education and the importance of deeply engaged partnerships among all of the stakeholders – school systems, institutions of higher education, informal science education centers, science based institutions, museums, local governments, and the business community.
 
“Partnerships must be deeply engaged and not be cheerleaders from the sidelines,” stated Dr. Jeffrey Wadsworth, President and CEO of Battelle Memorial Institute. “STEM education is enhanced when industry and private partners engage their core skills with educators.” 
 
“Science-based cultural institutions of all kinds are building innovative partnerships with schools, governments, corporations, foundations, and other entities that seek not only to educate teachers and improve educational outcomes for students, but, equally important, to create sustained learning opportunities that span not only a child’s week and year, but his or her entire life,” said Ms. Ellen Futter, President of American Museum of Natural History. “These efforts are transforming our definition of the schoolhouse by providing access to educational resources beyond the school walls—from museums and similar institutions—and are also, in the process, redefining science education itself.”
 
According to Dr. Gordon Gee, President of Ohio State University, “Academics are all too familiar with the phrase ‘publish or perish.’ When it comes to successful STEM programs, I suggest that institutions of higher education must ‘partner or perish’.”
 
Chairman Gordon stated in agreement, “STEM education in this country is a problem that no one entity can solve alone. There is a role for all the key stakeholders, including federal, state, local school districts, higher education, and industry.  But we must coordinate our efforts and leverage all our resources.”
 
For more information on the Committee’s work on STEM education, please visit the Committee’s website.
 
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Bart Gordon, Chairman
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