This week, the House Education and Workforce Committee will mark up the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, a comprehensive bill to reauthorize the Higher Education Act (HEA). Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition James Brown made this statement on the bill.
We appreciate that the PROSPER Act contains a series of provisions directed at significantly streamlining the student financial aid process and providing flexibility to allow for emerging career and technical education programs, such as apprenticeships. The bill also broadly promotes alignment between workforce and industry needs and higher education goals and accountability measures.
However, the total elimination of current teacher education programs supported under Title II of HEA is greatly troubling, as the country is already facing a lack of high-quality STEM teachers, especially in underserved communities. Eliminating the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program would further compound this problem. We also urge the Committee to include a much more substantial focus on educational equity for populations that are historically underrepresented in higher education, especially in the STEM fields.
We appreciate the efforts of the Committee to advance comprehensive higher education reform. However, until these concerns are addressed, we cannot support this bill.
Tomorrow morning, the House Science and Technology Committee is marking up a bi-partisan package of several STEM-related bills that pertain to the National Science Foundation. The Coalition has been active in providing feedback and the final language reflects that input, especially as it relates to utilizing a broad application of the term STEM education, rather than focusing in certain specific fields with different student populations. The bills are directed at improving STEM education programs at the NSF as they relate to veterans, girls, women in aerospace, and NSF’s research programs relative to these purposes.
Yesterday, the STEM Education Coalition Policy Forum co-hosted a briefing with Student Veterans of America. The Policy Forum was pleased to welcome the Chairman of the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Phil Roe. Chairman Roe talked about the importance of the new STEM scholarship program in the Forever GI Bill and the need to get information about innovative learning programs to veterans through social media and the internet. The panel was co-sponsored by Got Your 6, Hands on Science Partnership, American Chemical Society, American Society for Engineering Education, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and Society of Women Engineers. Click on the link to read more.
STEM Legislation Tracker
Recently, the STEM Education Coalition Policy Team introduced an online federal legislation tracker. This tracker lists information about legislation in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives that pertains to STEM education. Check to see if your congressman has introduced STEM legislation!
The article explores how states and districts can use the additional flexibility in the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) to address the well-documented underrepresentation of women and people of color in STEM fields. These suggestions include directing more resources towards at-risk students, building STEM career pathways in career-and technical-education programming, and utilizing high-quality informal learning providers to their fullest potential. Equitable access to high-quality STEM education opportunities is critical to filling gaps in the STEM pipeline.