Last week, Rep. Joe Garcia (D-FL) introduced the Innovative STEM Networks Act, a bill that will provide competitive grant opportunities to states that form network-based partnerships between schools, universities, business, and community groups to promote science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education. The STEM Education Coalition had the opportunity to work closely with Garcia and his staff as this bill was developed over the last several weeks. In addition to our Coalition, the bill is supported by Battelle, National Science Teachers Association, Education Development Center, Hands on Science Partnership, American Statistical Association, Committee for the Advancement of STEM Specialty Schools, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Florida International University, Illinois Math and Science Academy, and STEMx.
The I-STEM Act would establish a program of competitive grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) to establish “STEM Innovation Networks” in partnership with institutions of higher education, nonprofit organizations, other public agencies, and businesses to increase the number of students who are effectively prepared for postsecondary education and careers in STEM fields. These partnerships will develop comprehensive plans for identifying, developing, testing and implementing evidence-based practices to provide rich STEM learning opportunities for students in participating schools, with a strong focus on aiding high-need schools. STEM Innovation Networks will employ of wide range of strategies—depending on local needs— in areas such as the recruitment, preparation, and professional development of effective STEM educators; the development and testing of teaching and learning models that enable students to successfully prepare for STEM careers; and student engagement in STEM activities both in and out of school.
The I-STEM Act compliments the Coalition efforts to establish a balanced approach to both formula and competitive based funding of federal STEM education programs through the U.S. Department of Education. See more about policies the Coalition supports in our Core Policy Principles document.
The I-STEM bill is a part of the Make It In America initiative, announced last week by House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.