Recent caucus events highlight importance of STEM ed

From: The Triangle Coalition
On Thursday, the House Diversity and Innovation Caucus held its inaugural event, launching the caucus with a luncheon highlighting the vast underrepresentation of women and racial and ethnic minorities in STEM fields and STEM education programs. At the launch, Congressman Silvestre Reyes, a founding and influential member of the caucus, announced that more than 60 members of congress had joined and pledged their support for programs to increase the participation of underrepresented groups in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. He pointed out that according to the U.S. Census, 39 percent of the population under the age of 18 is a racial or ethnic minority. In a separate event last week, the Senate STEM Education Caucus hosted the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education for a briefing entitled “Preparing STEM Teachers: The Key to Global Competitiveness.” The well-attended morning briefing featured a panel of education policy experts, business leaders and exemplary STEM teachers. The panelists presented thoughts on how the congress could legislate improvements in teacher effectiveness. In particular, Stanford Professor Linda Darling-Hammond highlighted a recent report by the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future and focused on the need to retain STEM teachers once they’re recruited to the field. She suggested service scholarships (as opposed to post-hoc forgivable loans) to cover the cost of high-quality pre-service programs for those who agree to teach in a high-need field or location for at least four years; higher-quality pre-service programs, which have been shown to lead to greater teacher retention; and expanded in-service professional development and mentoring and improved working conditions, all of which have also been shown to encourage greater retention. The panelists presentations are available online, here.

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