Issue Date: March 19, 2012
The federal science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education goals are guided, in part, by two 10-year targets recommended by President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science & Technology. Rolled out last year, the two challenges are:
Train 100,000 highly qualified K–12 STEM teachers
Graduate 1 million STEM college majors
The target number of new teachers is a conservative estimate of the actual number of trained educators the country will need, given the retirement of the baby boomer generation and the fact that many teachers quit the profession after only a few years, explains Helen R. Quinn, chair of the National Research Council’s Board on Science Education.
The number of technically educated employees the country will need in science fields is much harder to estimate and is tied to other factors, such as economic development and immigration policy. “What we do know is that having people who are competent in these skills is an economic advantage,” Quinn explains.
Support for programs targeting groups traditionally underrepresented in the sciences is important because they are becoming an increasing proportion of the population, she says. For example, women would be considered underrepresented in the physical sciences, math, or engineering fields, while African Americans and Latinos would be underrepresented in almost any STEM field.
- Chemical & Engineering News
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