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
This week, Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (OH-11) and Rep. Mike Turner (OH-10) introduced the Supporting Minority STEM Student to Career Act to improve the delivery of targeted resources to underrepresented students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields. The bill updates the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program by allowing institutions to provide scholarships to students from underrepresented populations pursuing STEM degrees. The bill also invests in institutions’ ability to provide minority students studying STEM with comprehensive wrap-around services, such as peer mentoring, community building activities, tutoring and study groups, supplemental instruction, internships, research experiences, and career and financial counseling. “We are proud to support this bill, which would expand the STEM workforce by promoting the success of underrepresented minorities, women, and other high-need populations in STEM career pathways,” said James Brown, Executive Director of the STEM Education Coalition. “In the hyper-competitive global economy, our nation must provide every student with an interest in the critical STEM fields – from every background – with a chance to succeed by providing them with the targeted supports they need. Reams of evidence have demonstrated that aligned work study, undergraduate research opportunities, mentorship and other forms of targeted academic assistance help high-need students stay in school, complete their degrees, and succeed in STEM careers. This bill would empower the existing Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program to deliver these kinds of supports to the students that will most benefit from them. Our collective prosperity depends on their success.” Click here for the full bill text.
Earlier this week, the House of Representatives passed two notable STEM education bills via unanimous voice vote. The Building Blocks of STEM Act¸ which would create and expand upon STEM education initiatives at NSF for young children, including new research grants to increase the participation of girls in computer science, passed both the House and Senate and now heads to the President to sign into law. The bill was sponsored by Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) alongside Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and Deb Fischer (R-NE). The House also passed the MSI STEM Achievement Act, a bipartisan bill authored by House Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). The bill directs Federal science agencies and the Office of Science and Technology Policy to undertake activities to improve the quality of undergraduate STEM education and enhance the research capacity at the Nation’s HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs. The STEM Education Coalition applauds the passage of both bills and appreciates the continued dedication of Congress to expand federal support for STEM education opportunities nationwide.
The STEM Education Coalition is delighted to welcome the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC) as our newest member of the Coalition’s Leadership Council! ASTC is the primary association for the nation’s leading science museums and science centers. Some of their most distinguished members include the Museum of Science Boston, the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry, and the Exploratorium in San Francisco. The group has long been engaged in advocacy around science and STEM education at the federal level. ASTC believes in the value of science centers to connect people with science, provide firsthand experience, and encourage curiosity. Melissa Ballard, formerly of the Afterschool Alliance, is now the Director of Public Policy for ASTC on the Coalition. ASTC is excited to join the STEM Education Coalition in its important policy and advocacy efforts. Welcome!! You can learn more about ASTC here.
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
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