New Bill Introduced in Congress to Improve STEM Education in Rural Communities

Jan 18, 2021

by ASME.org

On January 5, House Science, Space, and Technology Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) released a bill to improve science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education in rural communities. The Rural STEM Education Research Act was crafted to address inequalities that make it harder for students in rural communities to access quality STEM education such as shortages of qualified teachers, high teacher turnover, and difficulty in accessing computer-based learning technology. ASME has recently issued a Position Statement titled, “Strengthening Pre-College STEM Education in the United States as a Technology Literacy and Workforce Imperative” that also touches upon the challenges addressed in the new bill.
 
According to the bill’s sponsors, the legislation:
  • Supports research and development activities to improve understanding of the challenges rural communities are facing in providing and sustaining quality STEM education.
  • Promotes the development of best practices to help schools combine online STEM education with hands-on training and apprenticeships.
  • Addresses obstacles to rural STEM education, including reduced connectivity and the lack of broadband access by establishing a working group to set key research priorities for improving broadband access so rural communities
  • Directs the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST) to establish a prize competition to stimulate innovations in technologies to deploy broadband connectivity to underserved rural communities.
  • Supports training opportunities for rural educators at Federal Laboratories and universities.
  • Broadens the participation of rural students in STEM by giving students direct access to the STEM knowledge present in their communities and local environment. 
The full bill can be read here: https://republicans-science.house.gov/sites/republicans.science.house.gov/files/117%20Rural%20STEM%20Text%20SIGNED.pdf.
 
ASME’s “Strengthening Pre-College STEM Education in the United States as a Technology Literacy and Workforce Imperative” Position Statement can be read here: https://www.asme.org/getmedia/79342614-f561-4aae-9123-395aae418762/ps20-15-asme-pre-college-stem-position-paper-2020.pdf.

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