Press Release

Committee Examines a Systems Approach to Improving K-12 STEM Education

By SpaceRef Editor
July 30, 2009
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(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Research and Science Education Subcommittee held a hearing to examine how the public and private stakeholders in an urban K-12 system can work together to improve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education both inside and outside of the classroom. Specifically, the hearing focused on Chicago, and the exemplary collaborative efforts there involving the private, public, and nonprofit sectors.

“In hearings and reports we have repeatedly heard that innovation is key to maintaining a high standard of living for all Americans, and that we need more teachers and more graduates in the STEM fields if we want our country to continue to lead in the global economy,” said Subcommittee Chairman Daniel Lipinski (D-IL). “But we know there is no panacea and no one entity that can solve this alone. Reform of our STEM education system will require coordination on multiple fronts and across many diverse stakeholders.”

Improvements in the nation’s STEM education system are vital to maintaining and strengthening our economic competitiveness. Since many decisions in education happen at the local level, the Committee took a case-study look at how STEM partnerships and systemic initiatives are working in the Chicago Public Schools (CPS), the third-largest school district in America.

“Chicago’s diverse population of over four hundred thousand public school students, its top-notch universities, and the commitment of local industry, the school system, and city leaders make it an ideal case study for understanding what works in improving STEM education and what can be done at the federal level to encourage best practices across the country,” Lipinski said.

Subcommittee Members heard testimony from witnesses representing many of the key stakeholders in K-12 STEM education.

* Ms. Maggie Daley, Chair of After School Matters (ASM), discussed the important role of informal education and what ASM is doing to teach and engage young people in STEM fields.

* Dr. Wanda Ward, Acting Assistant Director for Education and Human Resources at the National Science Foundation (NSF), testified about the NSF’s role in providing support for systemic approaches to STEM education through programs such as the Math and Science Partnerships program.

* Mr. Michael Lach, Officer of Teaching and Learning at Chicago Public Schools, discussed the successes and challenges of the many STEM education partnerships and initiatives that have been developed in Chicago.

* Dr. Donald Wink, Director of Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Chemistry, and Director of Graduate Studies in Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois, discussed the university’s role in helping with K-12 STEM education, especially through NSF support.

* Ms. Katherine Pickus, Divisional Vice President of Global Citizenship and Policy at Abbott, testified about the importance of a STEM literate workforce to Abbott and about the role that Abbott scientists play in improving STEM education in their own communities. “America needs to be successful in improving STEM education. Without it, we will lose our capacity for innovation and diminish our country’s economic strength and competitiveness in the international marketplace. I am confident that Americans can do it, and we can maintain our world leadership. We see some pockets of success across the country, and as we heard today, Chicago is playing a leading role in bringing diverse stakeholders together to get students excited about STEM subjects. It is our job to learn from these successes and provide STEM educators with the best possible information and tools available,” added Lipinski.

The Subcommittee has made STEM education a top priority during the 111th Congress; this is the third hearing the Subcommittee has held on the issue this year.

For more information, visit the Committee’s website.

SpaceRef staff editor.