The Policy Forum is a 501(c) non-profit entity created by the STEM Education Coalition to bring a deeper focus to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education policy issues through public events, partnerships with state and local education stakeholders, policy roundtables, and other activities designed to improve our understanding of key STEM issues.
Recent Events and Updates
On Wednesday, July 31, the STEM Education Coalition co-sponsored a congressional briefing titled, “Aspects of a Well Rounded STEM Education: Mental Health and Learning Environments for Students and Educators,” exploring key steps in creating school environments prioritizing student engagement, learning, and mental well-being. Dr. Ann Bonitatibus, Principal of Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology (TJHSST), spoke on current actions and future plans at TJHSST to create a culture that prioritizes student wellness. These include steps such as ending required summer coursework for advanced placement courses and developing a mental wellness coalition to bring parents, students, administrators, and educators to the same table to discuss challenges and solutions to improving and maintaining a healthy learning environment for students. All the panelists underscored that teachers are not mental health professionals and can’t be expected to effectively treat the mental health challenges students are facing. Dr. Kathleen Minke, Executive Director of the National Association of School Psychologists, urged that high achieving youth may experience more anxiety than other children and adolescents. The desire to be perfect is one major factor partly responsible for creating children’s anxiety and depression and multi-tiered systems of support can help create a classroom culture supporting mental wellness. It is important for schools to provide the necessary services for students early, but this is challenging because of a shortage of mental health professionals in schools. This scarcity can be addresses by better compensating teachers and mental health professionals and preparing teachers better to help manage children who are struggling to eliminate burnout, Minke outlined. Dr. Rena Subotnik, Director of the Center for Psychology in the Schools and Education at the American Psychological Association (APA), described the research she conducted at the Juilliard School on high performance psychology, which is used to assist individuals in achieving optimal performance in their domain of choice. Julliard offers classes, such as Psychological Skills of Top Performers and the Science of Resilience. According to Subotnik, skills that are taught to athletes and entertainers to manage stress and anxiety can also be taught to students expected to “perform” in high-skilled fields such as STEM. The slide deck from the briefing can be found here. James Brown; Rena Subotnik; Kathleen Minke; Todd Mann; Ann Bonitatibus
On Wednesday, May 29, the STEM Education Coalition hosted a Capitol Hill briefing to discuss a range of policy areas related to bringing more people into the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce with “near” skills, meaning those who would be able to gain employment or improve their employability through short-term educational opportunities, on-the-job training, stackable credentials, 2-year degrees, and other non-traditional pathways. The briefing slides can be found here. A distinguished group of panelists headlined the briefing to talk about specific approaches to the issue and how their organizations are approaching solutions. Karen Horting, Executive Director and CEO, Society of Women Engineers, highlighted SWE’s STEM Reentry Task Force as an effort to increase the pipeline of female STEM sector talent with women who are returning from career breaks. Dr. Terri Taylor Chambers, Director of Learning and Career Development, American Chemical Society, explained ACS’ multidimensional approach of career exploration and professional development for chemists looking for workforce opportunities through their ACS College to Career program and ChemIDP program. The Honorable Jared Solomon, Maryland House of Delegates, referenced the EARN Maryland Program and the More Jobs for Marylanders Incentive Program as strategies to connect industry and government to expand workforce development opportunities for Maryland citizens. And Nicole Isaac, Senior Director of North America Policy, LinkedIn, displayed LinkedIn’s Economic Graph and underscored LinkedIn’s ability to provide industry, education, and other stakeholders dynamic data trends that can enhance the relationship between job-seekers with industry. Many thanks to our briefing sponsors:
The STEM Education Coalition and the Policy Forum are excited to present our 2018 Annual Report! 2018 was an eventful, impactful year. This report highlights the activities, accomplishments, and major media coverage of our work over the past year. Coalition staff met with more than 100 legislators and their staffs, hosted briefings attended by more than 600 policymakers, and testified in front of congressional committees. The entire STEM Education Coalition team thanks our members and looks forward to a productive 2019. Read the full report here.
On Tuesday, March 19, the STEM Education Coalition hosted a Capitol Hill Briefing on major policy issues facing the 116th Congress. Speakers included: Abigail Juris-Levy, Co-Director, STEM Portfolio, Education Development Center; Della Cronin, Principal, Bose Public Affairs Group; and Allyson Knox, Director of Education Policy, Microsoft. Coalition Executive Director, James Brown, moderated the conversation, which examined how Congress can support more efforts to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM activities, STEM in the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, and the importance of getting students involved in STEM learning in the earlier grades.
On Wednesday, November 28, the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) Education Coalition hosted STEM industry experts and STEM education policy experts for a briefing to discuss the findings and implications of a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, “New Approaches to Engaging Middle and High School Students in Science and Engineering.” Panelists outlined how research suggests that teaching students by encouraging them to ask questions and research those questions more effectively teaches them the skills needed to succeed in college and in the workforce than simply memorizing facts. Panelists also discussed educational inequity and a lack of diversity in the STEM field. They offered solutions to some of these problems, such as mentorship programs for underrepresented students in STEM fields and online laboratories for students in rural schools. One especially notable solution mentioned was that schools implement the kind of modern, culturally relevant learning discussed in the report because it would allow students to see the relevancy of STEM in their own lives and in their communities. The full report can be found here and a power point presentation from the briefing can be found here.
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