Friday, May 20, 2011

Sen Gillibrand Says Education Agenda Must Stress More Math and Science by Roger Muehlig - The Daily News Online: News

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Saying that more than 25 percent of students across the state tested poorly in math and science last year, U.S. Senator, Kristen Gillibrand announced an education agenda intended to strengthen instruction in those areas to better prepare students for jobs in an increasingly technological era.
"America is home to the world's strongest economy, the greatest colleges and universities, and the world's brightest minds, Gillibrand said in releasing her agenda during a conference call with upstate news media last week.
"But if we're going to keep our place atop the global economy, we must prepare our students with the education they need for the jobs of the future."
That starts, she said, with sparking more interest in math, science and technology, drawing more STEM (science, technology and math) teachers to educate students in "high-need" areas and streamlining proficiency standards.
"We are relying on our children today to be the innovators of tomorrow," she said in a news release tied to the conference call. "It's our job to make sure they are prepared."
Gillibrand said high-tech is going to be the best growing industry and that her agenda includes:
-- The Engineering Education for Innovation Act, a targeted effort that would, among other things, integrate engineering education into K-12 classrooms, increase engineering and technology teacher preparation programs, and promote partnerships among K-12 school administrators and teachers and engineering professionals.
The legislation, she said, would create a three-year program to award grants for planning and implementation of engineering education into K-12 instruction and curriculum.
-- Co-sponsoring legislation to establish a grant program within the U.S. Department of Education to create more hands-on STEM learning experiences, such as robotics.
-- Introducing legislation to provide STEM teachers who work in low-income, high-need schools a tax credit to cover 10 percent of their undergraduate tuition, up to $1,000 each year.
-- Legislation encouraging states and the National Assessment Governing Board to adopt common core standards in mathematics and encourage state participation by establishing an incentive fund for awarding four-year grants to states that agree to adopt voluntary math and science standards as the core of their own standards and align their teacher certification and professional development to those standards.
Focusing on primary education is a first step, Gillibrand said. "We have a long way to go."
Students lack proficiency
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the fastest-growing occupations in the last 10 years required expertise in the fields of science and math, according to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
But, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, less than a third of American students are proficient in those two academic fields, she said.
For Western New York, figures from four math and four science regents from 2010 indicate 23 percent of high school students scored unsatisfactory in math and 16 percent scored unsatisfactory in science.
In the Rochester/Finger Lakes region, the figures were 25 percent and 15 percent, respectively.